For their investigation of the impact of irrigated agriculture on hydrometeorological fields in the North American monsoon (NAM) region, Mahalov et al. used the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model to simulate weather over the NAM region in the summer periods of 2000 and 2012, with and without irrigation applied to the regional croplands. Unfortunately, while the authors found that irrigated agriculture may indeed influence summer precipitation, the magnitude, location, and seasonality of their irrigation inputs were substantially inaccurate because of 1) the assumption that pixels classified as "irrigated cropland" are irrigated during the summer and 2) an outdated land cover map that misrepresents known agricultural districts. The combined effects of these errors are 1) an overestimation of irrigated croplands by a factor of 3-10 along the coast of the Gulf of California and by a factor of 1.5 near the Colorado River delta and 2) a large underestimation of irrigation by a factor of 7-10 in Chihuahua, particularly in 2012. Given the sensitivity of the WRF simulations conducted by Mahalov et al. to the presence of irrigated agriculture, it is expected that the identified errors would significantly impact surface moisture and energy fluxes, resulting in noticeably different effects on precipitation. The authors suggest that the analysis of irrigation effects on precipitation using coupled land-atmospheric modeling systems requires careful specification of the spatiotemporal distribution of irrigated croplands.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Atmospheric Science