Main content area

A Bayesian assessment of the current irrigation water supplies capacity under projected droughts for the 2030s in China

Zhang, Tianyi, Simelton, Elisabeth, Huang, Yao, Shi, Ying
Agricultural and forest meteorology 2013 v.178-179 pp. 56-65
climate, crop models, crop yield, drought, irrigation rates, irrigation water, risk, water stress, water supply, China
Crop models often simulate drought impacts with full and no irrigation scenarios, while planners are more interested in whether the current available irrigation water can cope with the future more serious droughts. This paper addresses a key constraint common to modeling studies: the limited representation of actual irrigation water supply. We present a data-driven approach to identify a benchmark for agronomic drought risk levels as defined by water availability thresholds at the baseline climate (1980–2008) using reported crop yields, climate and irrigation statistics. Then, holding the current irrigation supplies, we adopted Bayesian formula to estimate magnitude of the future water availability and the associated probability of crops yields being decreased to rainfall-deficiency under climate conditions in 2030s (2020–2040) based on the RegCM3 climate model output driven by IPCC SRES A1B scenario. Results reveal that future drought stress would overwhelm the irrigation capacity of current supplies in northern and western China, while drought remains at baseline climate levels in the central, eastern and southern regions. The largest increases in the probability of projected drought risk were in northeast and southwest, ranging from 14% to 28% above baseline climate. Regional drought impacts for grain self sufficiency are discussed.