The impact of agricultural irrigation on land surface characteristics and near surface climate in China
MetadataShow full item record
It is well known that land cover and land use change can significantly influence the climate system by modulating surface-atmosphere exchanges. Land management, such as irrigation, also has a profound influence on the climate system. Irrigation can alter the water and energy flux from ground surface to the atmosphere and further influence near surface climate. Considering its dramatic expansion during the last century, the widespread use of irrigation has had an ongoing impact on our climate system. However, until now, this relationship between increased irrigation and its effect on climate system has not been well examined. The main objective of this dissertation is to quantify the irrigation impacts on land surface characteristics and near surface climate over China by using both observational (remote sensing and meteorological observation) and modeling studies with four specific questions: Where are the irrigated areas in China? What might have happened in the past? What will happen as a result of irrigation expansion in the future? And what is the relationship between the land cover land use change (LCLUC) impact and the irrigation impact on near surface climate in China? To answer these questions, I 1) developed three irrigation potential indices and produced a high resolution irrigation map of China; 2)analyzed and compared meteorological and remote sensing observations in irrigated and non-irrigated agriculture areas of China; 3) simulated both irrigation and LCLUC impact on land surface energy balance components (i.e., land surface temperature, latent flux, and sensible flux) and near surface climate (i.e., air temperature, water vapor, relative humidity) of China in the past (1978-2004) and also in two future time periods (2050 and 2100) by using the Community Land Model and compared the impact of irrigation with that of LUCC. Meteorological observations in Jilin Province show that the temperature differences between highly and lightly irrigated areas are statistically significant. The differences are highly correlated with the effective irrigation area (EIA) and sown area of crop (CSA). Results from satellite observations show that highly irrigated areas corresponded to lower albedo and daytime land surface temperature (LST), and higher normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) and evapotranspiration (ET). The difference between highly and lightly irrigated areas is bigger in drier areas and in drier years. The modeling studies show that the irrigation impact on temperature is much less in the future than in the 20th century and that irrigation impacts more on the maximum air temperature than on the minimum air temperature. Both contemporary and future irrigation simulations show, nationally, irrigation decreases daily maximum temperature (Tmax) but increase daily minimum temperature (Tmin). Daily mean temperature (Tmean) decreases in contemporary irrigation simulations but increases in most of the cases in future irrigation simulations. In the 20th century, nationally, the spray irrigation leads to a decrease in Tmax of 0.079K and an increase in Tmin of 0.022K. Nationally, the spray irrigation leads to a decrease in Tmax between 0.022K and 0.045K and an increase in Tmin between 0.019K and 0.057K under future scenarios. This study demonstrates that the irrigation patterns (flood irrigation and spray irrigation) have statistically significant impacts on local climate. Moreover, this study suggests that, in the national respective, the impacts of changes in land management on climate are not comparable to the impacts of changes in land cover land use. This dissertation on irrigation and its impact is the first study which focuses solely on China using observational and modeling methods. The results from this dissertation contribute to a better understanding of the irrigation impact on near-surface climate which can improve our knowledge of how human activities influence climate, guide future policies aimed at mitigating or adapting to climate change, and help design a precise model to project the impact of irrigation on the climate system and irrigation requirements in the future. It can also be useful in assessing future food and water security issues.