Irrigation water requirement
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
Justification for indicator selection
Water is essential for plant growth and there is a relationship between plant biomass production and transpiration, with the water-use efficiency (biomass production per unit water transpired) being affected by crop species as well as management. Increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration will lead to higher water use efficiency through reductions in plant transpiration and increased photosynthesis. Higher temperatures and lower relative humidity leads to higher evaporative demands, which reduces the water-use efficiency. The resulting effect of climate change on water-use efficiency is therefore a combination of changes in temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentration as well as changes in crop choice and management. The water demand by crops must be met through rainfall during the growing period, from soil water storage or by irrigation. In drought prone areas, increasing demands for water by industrial and urban users intensify the competition for water for irrigation in agriculture.
- IPCC, 2014: Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change[Field, C.B. and V.R. Barros (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, in press.
- Rate of change of the meteorological water balance
- Projected change in water availability for irrigation in the Mediterranean region
- Meteorological water balance (m3/ha/yr)
- Change in water availability (%)
Policy context and targets
In April 2013 the European Commission presented the EU Adaptation Strategy Package (http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/adaptation/what/documentation_en.htm). This package consists of the EU Strategy on adaptation to climate change /* COM/2013/0216 final */ and a number of supporting documents. One of the objectives of the EU Adaptation Strategy is Better informed decision-making, which should occur through Bridging the knowledge gap and Further developing Climate-ADAPT as the ‘one-stop shop’ for adaptation information in Europe. Further objectives include Promoting action by Member States and Climate-proofing EU action: promoting adaptation in key vulnerable sectors. Many EU Member States have already taken action, such as by adopting national adaptation strategies, and several have also prepared action plans on climate change adaptation.
The European Commission and the European Environment Agency have developed the European Climate Adaptation Platform (Climate-ADAPT, http://climate-adapt.eea.europa.eu/) to share knowledge on observed and projected climate change and its impacts on environmental and social systems and on human health; on relevant research; on EU, national and subnational adaptation strategies and plans; and on adaptation case studies.
No targets have been specified.
Related policy documents
Climate-ADAPT: Mainstreaming adaptation in EU sector policies
Overview of EU sector policies in which mainstreaming of adaptation to climate change is ongoing or explored
Climate-ADAPT: National adaptation strategies
Overview of activities of EEA member countries in preparing, developing and implementing adaptation strategies
DG CLIMA: Adaptation to climate change
Adaptation means anticipating the adverse effects of climate change and taking appropriate action to prevent or minimise the damage they can cause, or taking advantage of opportunities that may arise. It has been shown that well planned, early adaptation action saves money and lives later. This webportal provides information on all adaptation activities of the European Commission.
EU Adaptation Strategy Package
In April 2013 the European Commission adopted an EU strategy on adaptation to climate change which has been welcomed by the EU Member States. The strategy aims to make Europe more climate-resilient. By taking a coherent approach and providing for improved coordination, it will enhance the preparedness and capacity of all governance levels to respond to the impacts of climate change.
Key policy question
How is climate change affecting the water requirement of agricultural crops and water availability for irrigation across Europe?
Methodology for indicator calculation
The indicator has been produced querying a database, internal to Joint Research Centre (JRC), containing meteo data at 25 kilometers grid level, interpolated from meteo station data. The interpolation is performed taking into account only arable land, potentially suitable for crop growth. The meteo data are provided to JRC in the frame of the MARSOP 3 contract, complying with Council Regulation (EC) No 78/2008 of 21 January 2008 on the measures to be undertaken by the Commission in 2008-2013 making use of the remote-sensing applications developed within the framework of the common agricultural policy, Official Journal of the European Union, L 25 of 30 January 2008, p. 1.
The relative change in water availability for irrigation was projected under the A1B emission scenario by the HIRHAM (DMI) regional climate model for 2071-2100 relative to 1961-1990, using the WAPAA model for water availability under policy and climate change scenarios.
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
Effects of climate change on the growing season and crop phenology can be monitored directly, partly through remote sensing (growing season) and partly through monitoring of specific phenological events such as flowering. There is no common monitoring network for crop phenology in Europe, and data on this therefore has to be based on various national recordings, often from agronomic experiments. Crop yield and crop requirements for irrigation are not only affected by climate change, but also by management and a range of socio-economic factors. The effects of climate change on these factors therefore have to be estimated indirectly using agrometeorological indicators and through statistical analyses between climatic variables and factors such as crop yield.
The projections of climate change impacts and adaptation in agriculture rely heavily on modelling, and it needs to be recognised that there is often a chain of uncertainty involved in the projections going from emission scenario, through climate modelling, downscaling and to assessments of impacts using an impact model. The extent of all these uncertainties is rarely quantified, even though some studies have assessed uncertainties related to individual components. The crop modelling community has only recently started addressing uncertainties related to modelling impacts of climate change on crop yield and effect of possible adaptation options, and so far only few studies have involved livestock systems. Future studies also need to better incorporate effects of extreme climate events as well as biotic hazards (e.g. pests and diseases).
Further information on uncertainties is provided in Section 1.7 of the EEA report on Climate change, impacts, and vulnerability in Europe 2012 (http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/climate-impacts-and-vulnerability-2012/)
No uncertainty has been specified
Short term work
Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.
Long term work
Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Frequency of updates
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)