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Accounting for Climate Change in Water and Agriculture management

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ACCWA (Accounting for Climate Change in Water and Agriculture management)

Reporting period: 2019-03-01 to 2022-08-31

The Mediterranean is among the most sensitive areas to climate change as demonstrated in many studies (IPCC, 2013). The models issued by IPCC cast different scenarios for the Mediterranean Region, but all of them agree on a clear trend in the pattern of some climatic parameters. In terms of the thermal regime, the base scenario from 1980-2000 was used to estimate an increase in average surface temperatures in the range of 2.2 and 5.1°C for the period 2080-2100. For the same period, the models indicated pronounced rainfall regime changes in the Mediterranean and estimated that precipitation over lands might vary between -4% and -27%. %. The increased temperatures will lead to higher potential evapotranspiration (ET), which in turn will decrease water resources.

The Sahel region has also been identified as one of the primary observed climate change hot-spots, with a situation that will be worsened during the twenty-first century from both currently observed and projected increase in mean temperature and extreme events occurrence (Turco et al., 2015). Particularly, a 2-3°C warming is expected during the winter, accompanied by an increase in the number of heat wave days by 20-120 days over the Sahel. While there is strong consensus concerning future changes in surface temperature over the continent, the future projection in precipitation simulated by climate models is not homogeneous over the Sahelian area, with wettest conditions in the central and eastern Sahel, and driest conditions over the western Sahel (Sultan et al., 2016). Besides changes in annual precipitations, changes in the timing of rainfall events and in the rainfall efficacy are expected to have a strong impact on agricultural production in a region, where most farmers rely on rainfed crops for their livelihoods.

Increased rainfall variability and ET rates will compromise irrigation potential and expansion plans and increase competition and conflict over limited water resources. There are significant knowledge gaps and uncertainties about how much water will be available for a complete growing season, how much should be used for scheduling irrigation efficiently and extracted from these regions. More information regarding water use is necessary to improve agricultural planning and to manage water more efficiently at different scales: farm and catchment/irrigation district level.

Over both Mediterranean and Sahelian regions, the temperature increase will cause higher evaporation and transpiration rates, decreasing soil moisture and increasing crop water requirements. The expected impact in rainfed agriculture is a decrease in yield due to heat and water stress and an increase in the likeliwood of crop failure in rainfed crops for maize, millet and sorghum (Parkes et al. 2018). Ongoing changes in the socio-economic and environmental background of rainfed farmers combined with the expected population growth make timely and reliable information on rainfed crop yield and its spatial variability essential in decision-support for improving food security and livelihoods.

Precipitation projections are uncertain due to high inter-annual variation, but inter-annual and spatial varibaility are expected to increase. It is expected the duration of the rainy season be shorter and summer dry spells be longer increasing agriculture land deterioration and desertification. Temperature and precipitation changing patterns will thus increase hazards linked to environmental conditions such as droughts, floods or crop pests like locust swarms and others transboundary pests outbreaks. In order to reduce the impact of these hazards a critical component is a comprehensive hazards monitoring system that can provide early warning and deliver that information to users in a timely manner.

In this climate change context, ACCWA aims to develop the remote sensing based monitoring tools for agriculture and water management that help risk guidance.
During the first reporting period, the following specific objectives have been fulfilled:

Objective INNOVATIVE EO: To define, develop and implement innovative algorithms to estimate high spatial resolution soil moisture (SM), evapotranspiration (ET) and characterise vegetation status (VEG) from Earth Observation (EO) data.
SM, ET and VEG has been obtained at both high-spatial (field scale) and high-temporal (every week) resolutions by multi-sensor/multi- resolution/multi-wavelength remote sensing data.

Objective VALIDATION: To perform validation experiments on a regular basis using in situ, EO and modelling activities for all ACCWA estimates.
In coordination with the respective experimental sites, intensive field campaigns have been implement during 2019, 2020, and 2021.
As a result, we have the means to fully validate EO products and water fluxes covering a wide range of surface conditions.

Objective NETWORK: To build a network for inter-sectorial knowledge sharing and long-term collaboration in the field of remote sensing applications for water resources and agriculture management.
ACCWA builds on existing or completed European R&D projects aiming at optimizing irrigation, yield and hazards management and the partners have already collaborated in international projects. The framework of this project is strengthening these links and helps reaching institutions and enterprises working in the irrigation sector.

Objective OUTREACH: To promote the ACCWA project results, using open workshops and seminars, webinars, scientific peer-review articles, a web-portal, brochures, newsletters and films for the stimulation of results in future operational services.
The following promotion actions have been undertaken:
• Two Open Days
• 4 Workshops
• 3 Specific Trainings, 1 Summer Course and multiple Field Trainings
• 3 Webinars
• 8 PhD Lectures, 7 PhD on-going
• Presence at more than 150 conferences in more than 10 countries
• 32 Publications in peer-reviewed international scientific journals
• One film
• Presence in 4 Brokerage Events and 4 Fairs
As a result, we have seen an increasing number of assistants to open seminars and webinars and we have reinforced ACCWA’s network.
ACCWA aims to develop the remote-sensing based management and monitoring tools for food security and water and agricultural risk management. These tools are being jointly defined with a core user community that is already involved in the project by its participation in the Scientific Committee. It is therefore foreseen that the tools are uptaken since the project early stage. These tools will allow to:
• Monitoring water use by irrigation (mapping irrigated areas, estimating irrigation volumes, etc.) and groundwater extraction
• Monitoring droughts Including the mapping of RZSM at multiple scales and the monitoring of vegetation water stress
• Early estimate of regional yields and the effects of natural hazards

The purpose of the dissemination activities will be that a larger user community joins the early adopters’ users group.

The expected impact of the proposed dissemination and outreach activities is the effective consolidation of a network and the effective reaching of the EU community.

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