Water Scarcity To Worsen In 80% Of Croplands Globally

Water scarcity for agriculture is expected to increase on more than 80 per cent of the world’s farmland by 2050, according to a new study published in AGU’s journal Earth’s Future.

The study examines current and future water requirements for global agriculture and predicts whether available water levels, whether from rainwater or irrigation, will be sufficient to meet those needs under climate change.

Water Scarcity Globally

A study says that by 2050, more than 80 per cent of the world’s cultivated areas are expected to face severe water scarcity. This new study addresses current and future water requirements for global agriculture. The study also estimates whether the level of water available for irrigation from rain will be sufficient to meet those needs under climate change.

To make these predictions, the researchers developed a new index to measure and predict water scarcity in the two main sources of agriculture: soil water that comes from rain, called green water, and irrigation of rivers, lakes and groundwater, called blue water. It is the first study to apply this comprehensive index worldwide and predict the global scarcity of blue and green water as a result of climate change.

“As the largest user of blue and green water resources, agricultural production is facing unprecedented challenges,” said Xingcai Liu, associate professor at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and lead author of the study said “This index allows an evaluation of the scarcity of agricultural water in both rainfed and irrigated farmland in a consistent manner.”

In the last 100 years, the demand for water around the world has grown twice as fast as the human population. Water scarcity is already a problem on every continent with agriculture posing a major threat to food security. Despite this, most water scarcity models have not accounted for both blue and green water.

Water scarcity is already a serious issue on every continent, along with agriculture, posing a major threat to food security. Despite this, most water scarcity models have so far failed to take a comprehensive look at both blue and green glasses of water.

Green water or green water is that part of rainwater that is available to plants in the soil. Most of the rain seeps into the soil as green water, but it is often overlooked because it is not visible in the soil. This water cannot be diverted for other uses also.

The amount of green water available to crops depends on how much rain falls in that area and how much water is lost due to runoff and evaporation. Farming methods, vegetation covering the area, soil type and the slope of the terrain can also have an effect.

Mesfin Mekonnen, assistant professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering at the University of Alabama, who was not involved in the research, said the study is “well-timed to highlight the impact of climate on water availability in growing areas.” “.

What makes the document interesting is to develop a water scarcity indicator that takes into account both blue water and green water. Most studies focus only on blue water resources, giving little consideration to green water.

Mesfin Mekonnen, Assistant Professor of Civil, Construction, and Environmental Engineering, University of Alabama


Changes in available green water, changes in rainfall patterns and evaporation caused by higher temperatures, are now estimated to affect around 16 per cent of the world’s cultivated land. Adding an important dimension on water scarcity can have an impact on water management for agriculture.

For example, northeast China and the Sahel in Africa are expected to receive more rainfall, which could help alleviate water shortages for agriculture. However, irrigation for agriculture may increase due to decreased rainfall in the US Midwest and Northwest India.

The new index can help countries assess the risk and causes of water scarcity for agriculture and develop strategies to reduce the impact of future droughts.

Many practices help conserve agricultural water. Evaporation can be reduced by applying mulch or covering the ground with mulch. The water used in agriculture must be given at the right time.

“In the longer term, improving irrigation infrastructure, for example in Africa, and irrigation efficiency would be effective ways to mitigate the effects of future climate change in the context of rising food demand,” Liu said.

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