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Water Debt Indicator Reveals Where Agricultural Water Use Exceeds Sustainable Levels

Dalin, C; (2019) Water Debt Indicator Reveals Where Agricultural Water Use Exceeds Sustainable Levels. Water Resources Research , 55 (3) pp. 2464-2477. 10.1029/2018WR023146. Green open access

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Abstract

Agriculture overexploits water resources in many regions, as water stress metrics highlight. Tracing back the causes of water overuses and separately accounting for soil water, surface water and groundwater resources is an open challenge to monitor the sustainability of agricultural water use. We introduce the “water debt repayment time” indicator, measuring the time required to replenish water resources used for annual crop production. This indicator disentangles source‐ and crop‐specific water overuses at a high spatial resolution. Globally, we find that wheat and rice production critically overuses groundwater resources and cotton production overuses both surface water and groundwater. Locally, unsustainable production is found over the Sabarmati Basin and in the Chao Phraya Basin, where the repayment time exceeds 5 years in many cultivated areas. Critical overuses are also found over the High Plain and Indo‐Gangetic Plains, where the repayment times reach 50 years. Unsustainable irrigation is often a consequence of growing crops during local dry seasons.

Type: Article
Title: Water Debt Indicator Reveals Where Agricultural Water Use Exceeds Sustainable Levels
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1029/2018WR023146
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1029/2018WR023146
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: sustainability, water footprint, water depletion, food production, groundwater, irrigation demand
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Bartlett School Env, Energy and Resources
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10074470
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