Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-627
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-2020-627

  20 Jan 2021

20 Jan 2021

Review status: a revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal HESS.

Untangling irrigation effects on maize water and heat stress alleviation using satellite data

Peng Zhu and Jennifer Burney Peng Zhu and Jennifer Burney
  • School of Global Policy and Strategy, University of California, San Diego, CA USA

Abstract. Irrigation has important implications for sustaining global food production, enabling crop water demand to be met even under dry conditions. Added water also cools crop plants through transpiration; irrigation might thus play an important role in a warmer climate by simultaneously moderating water and high temperature stresses. Here we use satellite-derived evapotranspiration estimates, land surface temperature (LST) measurements, and crop phenological stage information from Nebraska maize to quantify how irrigation relieves both water and temperature stresses. Our study shows that, unlike air temperature metrics, satellite-derived LST detects significant irrigation-induced cooling effect, especially during the grain filling period (GFP) of crop growth. This cooling is likely to extend the maize growing season, especially for GFP, likely due to the stronger temperature sensitivity of phenological development during this stage. The analysis also suggests that irrigation not only reduces water and temperature stress but also weakens the response of yield to these stresses. Specifically, temperature stress is significantly weakened for reproductive processes in irrigated crops. The attribution analysis further suggests that water and high temperature stress alleviation contributes to 65 % and 35 % of yield benefit, respectively. Our study underlines the relative importance of high temperature stress alleviation in yield improvement and the necessity of simulating crop surface temperature to better quantify heat stress effects in crop yield models. Finally, untangling irrigation effects on both heat and water stress mitigation has important implications for designing agricultural adaptation strategies under climate change.

Peng Zhu and Jennifer Burney

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on hess-2020-627', Anonymous Referee #1, 26 Feb 2021
  • CC1: 'Comment on hess-2020-627', Yan Li, 03 Mar 2021
    • AC6: 'Reply on CC1', Peng Zhu, 14 Apr 2021
  • RC2: 'Comment on hess-2020-627', Anonymous Referee #2, 08 Mar 2021
  • RC3: 'Comment on hess-2020-627', Anonymous Referee #3, 08 Mar 2021

Peng Zhu and Jennifer Burney

Peng Zhu and Jennifer Burney

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Short summary
Satellite data was used to disentangle water and heat stress alleviation due to irrigation. Our findings are: 1. Irrigation induced cooling was captured by satellite LST but air temperature failed. 2. Irrigation extended maize growing season duration, especially during grain filling. 3. Water and heat stress alleviation constitute 65 % and 35 % of irrigation benefit. 4. Crop model simulating canopy temperature better captures irrigation benefit.