Ongoing growth of population and climate change are among the largest challenges and threats for humans, in particular in less developed countries. In the context of food supply both factors are closely linked to each other since the increased demand of water for drinking and agriculture is often confronted with degrading hydrological conditions due to a change of climatic conditions (e.g., warming, drying) and/or an increased danger of extreme weather situations (e.g., flood, drought). Our project is situated at the link between hydrological conditions and water availability for human consumption and agriculture. It will enhance the benefits of existing regional monitoring systems through its emphasis on understanding the connection of regional water availability to large-scale hydrological conditions as observed by global satellite systems.
The project comprehends three major research questions:
(1) Based on data from Earth observations satellites, in-situ networks and hydrological models we aim at investigating the development of hydrological conditions in agricultural areas globally and within selected study areas over the last decade. We will analyse its influence on agricultural productivity (and,where applicable, adaptation measures) during this period. New statistical space-time models and new methods for analysing large amounts of remote sensing data in combination with in-situ data will be developed and implemented for this task. Properties of the models and inference methods will be investigated and tested in extensive simulations. Special focus will be on non-stationarity patterns, possible change-points and extreme values.
(2) Based on our findings we intend to study in which way the development of hydrological conditions and therewith of the agricultural situation in these regions have been (or may potentially be) influenced by large-scale climate phenomena (climate anomalies, climate change), by extreme weather situations or human interference (e.g. groundwater withdrawal) over the last decade.
(3) Finally it shall be studied in which way satellite-based monitoring or model simulations of large-scale climate anomalies or weather phenomena can be applied for production in a study area. Here will rely on new statistical methods, taking the structure of the data found in our statistical analysis into account.