Mapping Irrigated Areas in China Using a Synergy Approach

Michiel van Dijk*, Susan Geurtsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In China, irrigation plays a fundamental role in food production, which is hampered by water security, rising population and climate change. To ensure food security and formulate agricultural and irrigation policies, decision-makers need detailed grid-level information on the location of irrigated areas. Unfortunately, this information is not easily available as national irrigation maps are frequently outdated and often have a coarse spatial resolution. In this paper, we present new irrigation maps for China at a spatial resolution of 30 arc seconds (~1 × 1 km) that cover the period between 2005 and 2015. The maps were created using a synergy approach, which combines and integrates regional and global irrigation maps, cropland maps and subnational statistics. The maps were calibrated to subnational irrigation statistics and validated using an external dataset with geocoded information on the location of irrigated areas. The maps show, at the detailed spatial level, how much irrigation expanded over the period of 2005–2015. The proposed synergy approach is flexible and can easily be applied to create irrigation maps for other regions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1666
Number of pages16
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 25 Apr 2023


  • food security
  • irrigation
  • maps
  • remote sensing


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