Irrigation has allowed food production to occur in regions that would have otherwise been unsuitable for agriculture due to their dry climate. Although irrigation has been commonly practiced for thousands of years, only recently have the effects of irrigation on climate been studied closely.
In some regions of the world - such as the Lake Chad basin in north-central Africa, the Colorado River in the southwest United States, and the Aral Sea in Western Asia - irrigation in conjunction with climate change has removed so much water from the system that the aforementioned waterbodies are beginning to disappear. This has prompted many people to discuss sustainable irrigation, where water was only removed from local sources at a rate replenishable by nature.
This dataset gives the fractional gridcell area equipped for irrigation. Thus it is the area in a gridcell equppped to provide irrigation (not necessarily under irrigation, divided by the total area of the gridcell.
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Döll, P., Siebert, S. (2000): A digital global map of irrigated areas. ICID Journal, 49(2), 55-66.
(All images are provided at a resolution of 1600x1200 pixels)
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