The overarching goal of this research was to develop methods and protocols for mapping irrigated areas using a Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) 500 m time series, to generate irrigated area statistics, and to compare these with ground- and census-based statistics. The primary mega-file data-cube (MFDC), comparable to a hyper-spectral data cube, used in this study consisted of 952 bands of data in a single file that were derived from MODIS 500 m, 7-band reflectance data acquired every 8-days during 2001-2003. The methods consisted of (a) segmenting the 952-band MFDC based not only on elevation-precipitation-temperature zones but on major and minor irrigated command area boundaries obtained from India's Central Board of Irrigation and Power (CBIP), (b) developing a large ideal spectral data bank (ISDB) of irrigated areas for India, (c) adopting quantitative spectral matching techniques (SMTs) such as the spectral correlation similarity (SCS) R2-value, (d) establishing a comprehensive set of protocols for class identification and labeling, and (e) comparing the results with the National Census data of India and field-plot data gathered during this project for determining accuracies, uncertainties and errors. The study produced irrigated area maps and statistics of India at the national and the subnational (e.g., state, district) levels based on MODIS data from 2001-2003. The Total Area Available for Irrigation (TAAI) and Annualized Irrigated Areas (AIAs) were 113 and 147 million hectares (MHa), respectively. The TAAI does not consider the intensity of irrigation, and its nearest equivalent is the net irrigated areas in the Indian National Statistics. The AIA considers intensity of irrigation and is the equivalent of "irrigated potential utilized (IPU)" reported by India's Ministry of Water Resources (MoWR). The field-plot data collected during this project showed that the accuracy of TAAI classes was 88% with a 12% error of omission and 32% of error of commission. Comparisons between the AIA and IPU produced an R2-value of 0.84. However, AIA was consistently higher than IPU. The causes for differences were both in traditional approaches and remote sensing. The causes of uncertainties unique to traditional approaches were (a) inadequate accounting of minor irrigation (groundwater, small reservoirs and tanks), (b) unwillingness to share irrigated area statistics by the individual Indian states because of their stakes, (c) absence of comprehensive statistical analyses of reported data, and (d) subjectivity involved in observation-based data collection process. The causes of uncertainties unique to remote sensing approaches were (a) irrigated area fraction estimate and related sub-pixel area computations and (b) resolution of the imagery. The causes of uncertainties common in both traditional and remote sensing approaches were definitions and methodological issues. ?? 2009 International Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, Inc. (ISPRS).