Risk in irrigation water supply and the effects on food production

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This paper examines irrigation water supply deficit and associated risk indicators due to random climate events and potential effects on irrigated food production during the period 1996 to 2025 for seven river basins in the USA, China, and India. An integrated water and food model with global scope is applied for the analysis. The global climate regime during 1961 to 1990 is used to generate 30 climatic scenarios for the time period 1996 to 2025, and these scenarios are applied to the model in order to characterize the randomness of precipitation, runoff, and evapotranspiration, which affects both irrigation water supply and demand. The risk with random climate events is represented by reliability, variability, and vulnerability from different perspectives. Regarding irrigation water supply, Colorado will bear an increasingly unstable situation although the average water supply relative to the demand will maintain at a relatively high level; selected basins in China and India indicate that significantly lower levels of reliability and more deleterious affects from drought can be expected, but under a less variable condition due to assumed water storage increase. From 1996 to 2025, the effects of water deficits on irrigated food production are characterized with a nonlinear phenomenon and food production loss will be more sensitive to irrigation water supply deficit in the future. Future work following this paper needs to consider the impact of global climate change and the water quality of the irrigation return flow and result verification by local studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number04011
Pages (from-to)679-692
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Agriculture
  • Drought
  • Food production
  • Irrigation
  • Risk assessment
  • River basin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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