Spatiotemporal patterns of paddy rice croplands in China and India from 2000 to 2015
Due to rapid population growth and urbanization, paddy rice agriculture is experiencing substantial changes in the spatiotemporal pattern of planting areas in the two most populous countries—China and India—where food security is always the primary concern. However, there is no spatially explicit and continuous rice-planting information in either country. This knowledge gap clearly hinders our ability to understand the effects of spatial paddy rice area dynamics on the environment, such as food and water security, climate change, and zoonotic infectious disease transmission. To resolve this problem, we first generated annual maps of paddy rice planting areas for both countries from 2000 to 2015, which are derived from time series Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data and the phenology- and pixel-based rice mapping platform (RICE-MODIS), and analyzed the spatiotemporal pattern of paddy rice dynamics in the two countries. We found that China experienced a general decrease in paddy rice planting area with a rate of 0.72 million (m) ha/yr from 2000 to 2015, while a significant increase at a rate of 0.27 m ha/yr for the same time period happened in India. The spatial pattern of paddy rice agriculture in China shifted northeastward significantly, due to simultaneous expansions in paddy rice planting areas in northeastern China and contractions in southern China. India showed an expansion of paddy rice areas across the entire country, particularly in the northwestern region of the Indo-Gangetic Plain located in north India and the central and south plateau of India. In general, there has been a northwesterly shift in the spatial pattern of paddy rice agriculture in India. These changes in the spatiotemporal patterns of paddy rice planting area have raised new concerns on how the shift may affect national food security and environmental issues relevant to water, climate, and biodiversity.