09 Dec 2022
09 Dec 2022
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal ESSD.

Regional data sets of high-resolution (1 and 6 km) irrigation estimates from space

Jacopo Dari1,2, Luca Brocca2, Sara Modanesi2, Christian Massari2, Angelica Tarpanelli2, Silvia Barbetta2, Raphael Quast3, Mariette Vreugdenhil3, Vahid Freeman4, Anaïs Barella-Ortiz5, Pere Quintana-Seguí5, David Bretreger6, and Espen Volden7 Jacopo Dari et al.
  • 1Dept. of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy
  • 2Research Institute for Geo-Hydrological Protection, National Research Council, Perugia, Italy
  • 3Department of Geodesy and Geoinformation, Research Unit Remote Sensing, TU Wien, Vienna, Austria
  • 4Earth Intelligence, Spire Global, 2763 Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  • 5Observatori de l’Ebre (OE), Ramon Llull University - CSIC, 43520 Roquetes, Spain
  • 6School of Engineering, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, New South Wales 2308, Australia
  • 7European Space Agency, ESRIN, Frascati, Italy

Abstract. Irrigation water use represents the primary source of freshwater consumption by humans. The amount of water withdrawals for agricultural purposes is expected to further increase in the upcoming years to face the rising world population and higher living standards. Hence, effective plans for enacting a rational management of agricultural water use are urgent, but they are limited by knowledge gaps about irrigation. Detailed information on irrigation dynamics (i.e., extents, timing, and amounts) is generally lacking worldwide, but satellite observations can be used to fill this gap.

This paper describes the first regional-scale and high-resolution (1 and 6 km) irrigation water data sets obtained from satellite observations. The products are developed over three major river basins characterized by varying irrigation extents and methodologies, as well as by different climatic conditions. The data sets are an outcome of the European Space Agency (ESA) Irrigation+ project. The irrigation amounts have been estimated through the SM-based (Soil-Moisture-based) inversion approach over the Ebro river basin (North-eastern Spain), the Po valley (Northern Italy), and the Murray-Darling basin (South-eastern Australia). The satellite-derived irrigation products referring to the case studies in Europe have a spatial resolution of 1 km, and they are retrieved by exploiting Sentinel-1 soil moisture data obtained through the RT1 (first-order Radiative Transfer) model. A spatial sampling of 6 km is instead used for the Australian pilot area, since in this case the soil moisture information comes from CYGNSS (Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System) observations. All the irrigation products are delivered with a weekly temporal aggregation. The 1 km data sets over the two European regions cover a period ranging from January 2016 to July 2020, while the irrigation estimates over the Murray-Darling basin are available for the time span April 2017 – July 2020. The retrieved irrigation amounts have been compared with benchmark rates collected over selected agricultural districts. Results highlight satisfactory performances over the major part of the pilot sites falling within the two regions characterized by a semi-arid climate, namely the Ebro and the Murray-Darling basins, quantified by median values of RMSE, Pearson correlation, r, and BIAS equal to 12.4 mm/14-day, 0.66, and -4.62 mm/14-day, respectively, for the Ebro basin and to 10.54 mm/month, 0.77, and -3.07 mm/month, respectively, for the Murray-Darling basin. The assessment of the performances over the Po valley is affected by the limited availability of in situ reference data for irrigation.

Jacopo Dari et al.

Status: open (until 03 Feb 2023)

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Jacopo Dari et al.

Data sets

Regional data sets of high-resolution (1 and 6 km) irrigation estimates from space Dari, Jacopo, Brocca, Luca, Modanesi, Sara, Massari, Christian, Tarpanelli, Angelica, Barbetta, Silvia, Quast, Raphael, Vreugdenhil, Mariette, Freeman, Vahid, Barella-Ortiz, Anaïs, Quintana-Seguí, Pere, Bretreger, David, & Volden, Espen

Jacopo Dari et al.


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Short summary
Irrigation is the main source of global freswhwater consumption. Despite this, a detailed knowledge of irrigation dynamics (i.e., timing, extent of irrigated areas, and amounts of water used) are generally lacking worldwide. Satellites represent a useful tool to fill this knowledge gap and monitor irrigation water from space. In this study, three regional-scale and high-resolution (1 and 6 km) products of irrigation amounts estimated by inverting the satellite soil moisture signal are presented.