|UND joins global consortium for irrigated area mapping and assessment|
Santhosh Seelan, Professor, Space Studies and Bethany Kurz, a Space Studies student attended the International Workshop on Global Irrigated Area Mapping 2006 at Colombo, Sri Lanka from Sept 25 to 27. The workshop, organized by the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) and attended by participants from around the globe, focused on remote sensing based approach to mapping irrigated cropland globally on a regular basis.
During the workshop, a Consortium for Irrigated Area Mapping and Assessment (CIAMA) was formed and the University of North Dakota became a founding member of the consortium. The relationship between UND and IWMI has been nurtured over the past few years which has resulted in research collaboration and student exchanges and this consortium effort further strengthens this initiative.
Bethany Kurz presented a paper on "Evaluation of Temporal Trends in Irrigated Agriculture Overlying the Ogallala aquifer, United States" authored by Bethany Kurz, Santhosh Seelan and Tanya Justham. The research was initiated by Dr. Seelan and is part of Bethany's thesis work, which in progress. The paper evaluates the accuracy of IWMI estimates of irrigated cropland in the Great Plains, based on the field work carried out last summer by Tanya Justham, a graduate student of UND's Geology department.
Irrigation, which was primarily responsible for increased food output in the past few decades to meet the growing population' needs, has shown signs of decline in major food producing areas of the world in recent years, causing alarm. The decrease is attributed to decline in water availability and competing uses for water. Mapping and monitoring irrigated cropland on a regular basis has therefore gained importance in the recent years. IWMI, a World Bank funded organization head quartered in Colombo, is the lead agency for this effort. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization is a key partner.