Agricultural Exposure to Water Stress

Water stress levels in areas where key crops are grown

  • Source: WRI

This map of baseline water stress in major crop producing areas was created by WRI's Aqueduct program as part of the Water Risk Atlas, an online mapping tool that displays various aspects of water-related risks. The map displays the major crop producing areas for 13 major commodity crops (cocoa, coffee, cotton, maize, oats, oil palm, oranges, canola, rice, rubber, soybeans, sugarcane, and wheat) and 9 crop groups (cereals, fiber crops, fodder crops, fruits, oil crops, legumes, roots and tubers, sugar crops, and tree nuts), and the levels of water stress (low, low to medium, medium to high, high, and extremely high) experienced in these major crop-producing areas. Baseline water stress refers to the annual water withdrawals (municipal, industrial, and agricultural) expressed as a percentage of the total annual available flow. Higher values indicate more competition among users. Arid areas with low water use are shown in gray but scored as high stress when calculating aggregated scores. Baseline water stress is calculated by dividing water withdrawals (2010) by mean available blue water (1950-2008). Areas with available blue water and water withdrawal less than 0.03 and 0.012/m2 respectively are coded as “arid and low water use." Crop production in each category is computed by overlaying gridded crop production data, which was pulled from 2 articles in Global Biogeochemical Cycle (2008), "Farming the Planet: 1. Geographic Distribution of Global Agricultural Lands in the Year 2000" and "Farming the Planet: 2. Geographic Distribution of Crop Areas, Yields, Physiological Types, and Net Primary Production in the Year 2000." The authors of these studies identified croplands and crop production using a high-resolution satellite-derived land cover data set and agricultural inventory data to derive a global map of croplands. Resource Watch shows only a subset of the data set. For access to the full data set and additional information, see the Learn More link.

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Formal name

Agricultural Exposure to Water Stress

Suggested citation

World Resources Institute. 2013. "Agricultural exposure to water stress." Aqueduct. World Resources Institute. Accessed through Resource Watch, (date).


World Resources Institute (WRI)

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