EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Climate-change impacts and adaptation for Pakistan’s irrigated agriculture

Bram Droppers1, Iwan Supit1, Rik Leemans2, Michelle van Vliet3, and Fulco Ludwig1
Bram Droppers et al.
  • 1Wageningen University, Water Systems and Global Change Group, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • 2Wageningen University, Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen, Netherlands
  • 3Utrecht University, Department of Physical Geography, Utrecht, Netherlands

Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable counties in terms climate-change impacts on its agricultural productivity. Agriculture is not only the largest sector in Pakistan’s economy, the food security of its over 220 million inhabitants also strongly depends on its production. As Pakistan’s arid croplands are extensively irrigated, agricultural productivity is affected by increasing temperatures (projected to increase up to 6°C between 2000 and 2100 under a limited climate-change mitigation scenario), changes in water availability (i.e. river streamflow and groundwater resources) and atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations ([CO2]; affecting both crop productivity and water use efficiency).

Here we present the impacts of climate change on Pakistan’s primary cereal crops: wheat and rice. Impacts are quantified by combining several climate-change scenarios with a process-based coupled hydrological-crop model, VIC-WOFOST. VIC-WOFOST comprehensively estimates changes in crop growth, water resources and their interactions under climate change. Moreover, the role of elevated [CO2] on agricultural productivity and sustainable water use is specifically assessed. We then explore the possibilities and limitations of agricultural adaptation to enable sustainable food security for Pakistan under various climate-change and population growth scenarios.

Our results show that climate-change will severely affect Pakistan’s agriculture, especially due increased temperatures and crop heat stress. However, climate-change adaptation can potentially mitigate some of these effects, especially for wheat production. Moreover, with sufficient agricultural adaptation, climate-change can even be beneficial for Pakistan’s agriculture due to the benefits of elevated [CO2]. While our study is focussed on  Pakistan, it indicates pathways for sustainable food production under climate change that may also be important for other regions that strongly depend on irrigated agriculture.

How to cite: Droppers, B., Supit, I., Leemans, R., van Vliet, M., and Ludwig, F.: Climate-change impacts and adaptation for Pakistan’s irrigated agriculture, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9656,, 2022.

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