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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - IRI THESys

Irrigation dams as drivers of sustainable agricultural change?

Philippe is affiliated to the Geography Department of Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, where he previously worked in the context of sustainable land management strategies in pastoral land use systems in the Brazilian Amazon.

Google Earth, Image Acquisition October 2014

Image: Agricultural production in the Western Desert in Egypt. An extensive network of canals originating Lake Nasser provides these pivot irrigation fields with held back water. Highly saline soils and technical problems with irrigation infrastructures due to clay and sand limit the productivity of these agricultural lands. © Google Earth, Image Acquisition October 2014.

The construction of dams and reservoirs represents the most frequent hydrological alteration to improve access to and use of water resources. The majority of large dams was created solely for the purpose to provide irrigation water for agricultural lands, thereby directly contributing to an estimated 12-16% of global food production. Previous case studies focusing on irrigation dams have shown bidirectional effects on agricultural production systems, which can be categorized in two types of changes: changes in the quantity as well as the productivity of agricultural lands.

The spatio-temporal dynamics of dam-induced agricultural change remain unknown and project evaluation processes of such large infrastructures are frequently performed by associated authorities, which distorts assessments and impedes independent evaluation. A globally standardized quantification of spatio-temporal effects of irrigation dams promises insights and knowledge which potentially enhances the appraisal of socio-economic and environmental effects prior to construction. Considering the large number of planned damming facilities across the globe, there is an urgent need to identify common effects on agricultural systems and related local livelihoods, environment, and economy over space and time.

The overarching goal of this dissertation is to detect and understand interactions between irrigation dam construction and changing agricultural landscapes from several hundred dam projects around the globe using state-of-the-art remote sensing techniques.

Philippe Rufin is a doctoral researcher at IRI THESys. He graduated in Physical Geography of Human Environment Systems at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Throughout his studies, Philippe focused on the development and application of remote sensing methods to monitor human-induced alterations of land systems.


Philippe Rufin
Photo: Emma Lundbäck


Philippe Rufin, Doctoral Researcher
THESys Graduate Program
Phone: +49 30 2093-6877
E-mail:  philippe.rufin@geo.hu-berlin.de

Selected publications

Rufin, P.; Müller, H.; Pflugmacher, D.; Hostert, P. (2015): Land use intensity trajectories on Amazonian pastures derived from Landsat time series. In: International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 41, S. 1–10. DOI: 10.1016/j.jag.2015.04.010.

Müller, H.; Rufin, P.; Hostert, P. (2014):Characterizing pasture dynamics in the Brazilian Amazon using the full depth of Landsat archive (1984-2012). Conference talk at the GLP Open Science Conference, Berlin, Germany.

Hostert, P.; Gollnow, F.; Hissa, L.; Lakes, T.; Müller, H.; Rufin P.; Siqueira, A. (2013): Remote Sensing based Characterization of Southern-Amazonian Land Use / Land Cover. Conference talk at the CarBioCial Status Conference, Cuiabá, Brazil.

Müller, H.; Rufin, P.; Hostert, P. (2013): Land change in the Amazon: A Remote Sensing Perspective along the BR-163. Conference talk at the CarBioCial Workshop on Carbon and Biodiversity,Humboldt University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Senf, C.; Rufin, P.; Tagay, S.; Lakes, T.; Senf, W. (2011): Medizinische Versorgungsforschung im Essener Stadtraum aus einer räumlichen Perspektive. In: Strobl, J., Blaschke, T. and Griesbner, G. (Eds.): Angewandte Geoinformatik 2011, Beiträge zum 23. Agit Symposium Salzburg (p. 312-320), Wiechmann Verlag, Berlin, Germany.