Decreases in climatic water availability (CWA) and increases in crop water demand (CWD) in the background of climate change are a major concern in arid regions because of less water availability and higher irrigation requirements for crop production. Assessment of the spatiotemporal changes in CWA and CWD is important for the adaptation of irrigated agriculture to climate change for such regions. The recent changes in CWA and CWD during growing seasons of major crops have been assessed for Iraq where rapid changes in climate have been noticed in recent decades. Gridded precipitation of the global precipitation climatology center (GPCC) and gridded temperature of the climate research unit (CRU) having a spatial resolution of 0.5°, were used for the estimation of CWA and CWD using simple water balance equations. The Mann–Kendall (MK) test and one of its modified versions which can consider long-term persistence in time series, were used to estimate trends in CWA for the period 1961–2013. In addition, the changes in CWD between early (1961–1990) and late (1984–2013) periods were evaluated using the Wilcoxon rank test. The results revealed a deficit in water in all the seasons in most of the country while a surplus in the northern highlands in all the seasons except summer was observed. A significant reduction in the annual amount of CWA at a rate of −1 to −13 mm/year was observed at 0.5 level of significance in most of Iraq except in the north. Decreasing trends in CWA in spring (−0.4 to −1.8 mm/year), summer (−5.0 to −11 mm/year) and autumn (0.3 to −0.6 mm/year), and almost no change in winter was observed. The CWA during the growing season of summer crop (millet and sorghum) was found to decrease significantly in most of Iraq except in the north. The comparison of CWD revealed an increase in agricultural water needs in the late period (1984–2013) compared to the early period (1961–1990) by 1.0–8.0, 1.0–14, 15–30, 14–27 and 0.0–10 mm for wheat, barley, millet, sorghum and potato, respectively. The highest increase in CWD was found in April, October, June, June and April for wheat, barley, millet, sorghum and potato, respectively.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited