Groundwater-dependent irrigation costs and benefits for adaptation to global change

Golam Saleh Ahmed Salem, So Kazama, Shamsuddin Shahid, Nepal C. Dey

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8 Citations (Scopus)


The effects of a 1.5 °C global change on irrigation costs and carbon emissions in a groundwater-dependent irrigation system were assessed in the northwestern region of Bangladesh and examined at the global scale to determine possible global impacts and propose necessary adaptation measures. Downscaled climate projections were obtained from an ensemble of eight general circulation models (GCMs) for three representative concentration pathways (RCPs), RCP2.6, RCP4.5, and RCP8.5 and were used to generate the 1.5 °C warming scenarios. A water balance model was used to estimate irrigation demand, a support vector machine (SVM) model was used to simulate groundwater levels, an energy-use model was used to estimate carbon emissions from the irrigation pump, and a multiple linear regression (MLR) model was used to simulate the irrigation costs. The results showed that groundwater levels would likely drop by only 0.03 to 0.4 m under a 1.5 °C temperature increase, which would result in an increase in irrigation costs and carbon emissions ranging from 11.14 to 148.4 Bangladesh taka (BDT) and 0.3 to 4% CO2 emissions/ha, respectively, in northwestern Bangladesh. The results indicate that the impacts of climate change on irrigation costs for groundwater-dependent irrigation would be negligible if warming is limited to 1.5 °C; however, increased emissions, up to 4%, from irrigation pumps can have a significant impact on the total emissions from agriculture. This study revealed that similar impacts from irrigation pumps worldwide would result in an increase in carbon emissions by 4.65 to 65.06 thousand tons, based only on emissions from groundwater-dependent rice fields. Restricting groundwater-based irrigation in regions where the groundwater is already vulnerable, improving irrigation efficiency by educating farmers and enhancing pump efficiency by following optimum pumping guidelines can mitigate the impacts of climate change on groundwater resources, increase farmers’ profits, and reduce carbon emissions in regions with groundwater-dependent irrigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-979
Number of pages27
JournalMitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 1


  • 1.5 °C temperature increase
  • Carbon emissions
  • Groundwater levels
  • Irrigation costs
  • Northwestern Bangladesh


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