Irrigation is the most important human intervention on the water cycle, accounting for over 70 percent of water withdrawals globally. The impact of irrigation on the water and energy cycles is largely unknown, mainly due to the absence of knowledge of actual irrigation volumes. Only little information is available, either for very small areas (e.g., experimental farms) or aggregated at country scale based on statistical surveys.

To address the problem, some recent studies have suggested the exploitation of microwave observations derived from space-borne sensors to identify the extent (where), the timing (when), and the amount of water used (how much) for irrigation. The CLIMERS group is addressing this challenging task from the local to the continental scale by means of various remotely sensed soil moisture products in synergy with other datasets and models.

Ongoing projects

The CCI-AWU project aims to provide a long-term time series (> 20 years) of Anthropogenic Water Use. These AWU time series will be generated in four highly irrigated pilot regions (USA, India, Spain, Australia) using four different retrieval algorithms applied to coarse-scale remote sensing products (soil moisture and total water storage from the GRACE satellite).

Read more on the CCI-AWU page.

4DMED-Hydrology aims at developing an advanced, high-resolution, and consistent reconstruction of the Mediterranean terrestrial water cycle by using the latest developments of Earth Observation (EO) data as those derived from the ESA-Copernicus missions.

Read more on the 4D-MED page

Completed projects

HydroTerra, a geosynchronous C-band radar satellite designed for monitoring the daily water cycle, was recently selected by ESA as one of its three Earth Explorer 10 candidate missions.

Read more on the DWC-Radar page

The Irrigation+ project aims at advancing Earth Observation (EO) capabilities towards a quantitative, accurate and routine estimation of irrigation information by means of multi-mission satellite EO approaches, especially capitalizing on the latest advances in EO and the advent of the Sentinel missions in synergy with other data types and models.

Read more on the Irrigation+ page