Thursday, April 11, 2013

Wine whine??

Always interesting when the effects of our changing climate on a sensitive crop are examined, as in the case of wine grapes reported on by the Guardian (see below*). It not just an issue of wine. It is also an issue of the wider changes in land use as wine production shifts (or tries to), along with other crops. There are many competing pressures on land, which of course is a finite resource.
 
*Climate change will threaten wine production, study shows. Global warming will make it difficult to raise grapes in traditional wine country, but will shift production to other regions
 
Bid adieu to Bordeaux, but also, quite possibly, a hello to Chateau Yellowstone. Researchers predict a two-thirds fall in production in the world's premier wine regions because of climate change.

The study forecasts sharp declines in wine production from Bordeaux and Rhone regions in France, Tuscany in Italy and Napa Valley in California and Chile by 2050, as a warming climate makes it harder to grow grapes in traditional wine country.

But also anticipate a big push into areas once considered unsuitable...
 
...Wine grapes are known to be one of the most finicky of crops, sensitive to subtle shifts in temperature, rain and sunshine. The industry has been forward-looking when it comes to anticipating the effects of climate change.

Wine experts have known for several years that a hotter, drier climate would change growing conditions in many of the most prized wine regions – forcing vineyards to mist grapes on the vine to protect them from the sun, or move sensitive vines to more hospitable terrain.

But the latest findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, still took the researchers by surprise. "We expected to see significant shifts, but we didn't expect to see shifts like these," said Hannah.

The scientists used 17 different climate models to gauge the effects on nine major wine-producing areas. They used two different climate futures for 2050, one assuming a worst-case scenario with a 4.7C (8.5F) warming, the other a 2.5C increase.

Both forecast a radical re-ordering of the wine world. The most drastic decline was expected in Europe, where the scientists found a 85% decrease in production in Bordeaux, Rhone and Tuscany...
Full Guardian article here. More on climate change here.

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