Monitoring and Prediction of Regional Water Availability for Agricultural Production under the Influence of Climate Anomalies and Weather Extremes (REWAP)

This projects address one of the most important issues facing humanity during this century, i.e., the threat posed by hydrological impacts on agricultural production under climate change. Many regions worldwide are affected by strong changes in hydrological conditions due to episodic (e.g. extreme weather) and/or on-going (e.g. global warming or water overexploitation) effects.

The principal task of the project is to investigate, in which way and with which consequences such time-variable hydrological conditions are linked to regional water availability for human consumption and agricultural production and may impose adaptation measures or developments towards climate-smart agriculture. Of particular interest is the question, in which way changes in regional conditions occur in response to large-scale phenomena in the global climate system.

Using up-to-date satellite technology, in particular the twin-satellite gravity field mission GRACE, the project aims at monitoring suchlike large-scale phenomena and – in combination with ground and model data – forecasting their impact to regional-scale hydrological and agricultural conditions. The non-Gaussian skewed and heteroscedastic character of weather and other data requires the application of appropriate models, estimation and prediction methods. Moreover, any change-point and trend in the extremes and their possibly changing fluctuation behaviour has to be modelled appropriately. Statistical estimation methods will be developed to take such non-stationarities into account.

Results of the project may be of large interest not only to the scientific community but also to individuals, international organisations, and policy makers to develop possible adaptation measures under scenarios of climate change and extreme events.

The project addresses three major research questions:

  • How are hydrological conditions and agricultural production linked in specific regions?
  • How were hydrological conditions in these regions linked to large-scale climate phenomena (climate anomalies, climate change), extreme weather situations or human interference (e.g. groundwater withdrawal or other conse-quences of anthropogenic pressure) over the last decade?
  • How can recent observations of meteorological and hydrological phenomena in combination with models contribute to predictions of hydrological/agricultural conditions in a region?