This paper presents an approach to model the expected impacts of climate change on irrigation water demand in a reservoir command area. A statistical downscaling model and an evapotranspiration model are used with a general circulation model (GCM) output to predict the anticipated change in the monthly irrigation water requirement of a crop. Specifically, we quantify the likely changes in irrigation water demands at a location in the command area, as a response to the projected changes in precipitation and evapotranspiration at that location. Statistical downscaling with a canonical correlation analysis is carried out to develop the future scenarios of meteorological variables (rainfall, relative humidity (RH), wind speed (U2), radiation, maximum (Tmax) and minimum (Tmin) temperatures) starting with simulations provided by a GCM for a specified emission scenario. The medium resolution Model for Interdisciplinary Research on Climate GCM is used with the A1B scenario, to assess the likely changes in irrigation demands for paddy, sugarcane, permanent garden and semidry crops over the command area of Bhadra reservoir, India.
Results from the downscaling model suggest that the monthly rainfall is likely to increase in the reservoir command area. RH, Tmax and Tmin are also projected to increase with small changes in U2. Consequently, the reference evapotranspiration, modeled by the Penman–Monteith equation, is predicted to increase. The irrigation requirements are assessed on monthly scale at nine selected locations encompassing the Bhadra reservoir command area. The irrigation requirements are projected to increase, in most cases, suggesting that the effect of projected increase in rainfall on the irrigation demands is offset by the effect due to projected increase/change in other meteorological variables (viz., Tmax and Tmin, solar radiation, RH and U2). The irrigation demand assessment study carried out at a river basin will be useful for future irrigation management systems. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.