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Climate Change Hurts Wine Production, Study Shows

Climate change will threaten grape growing, leading to dramatic production declines in the world’s top wine regions, researchers predict in a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Climate Change, Wine and Conservation used 17 different climate models to measure the effects on nine major wine-producing areas. Researchers used two climate futures, or representative concentration pathways, for 2050, one assuming a worst-case scenario of a RCP 8.5 the other a RCP 4.5.

Major wine regions saw declines in production under both scenarios. The most dramatic decline is predicted for Europe, where researchers estimate an 85 percent decrease in production in the Bordeaux and Rhone valley regions in France, Tuscany in Italy.

The study estimates anywhere between 19 percent and 73 percent of the land currently suitable for grape-growing in major wine regions will no longer be appropriate for viticulture by 2050.

Suitability is forecast to decline in many traditional wine-producing regions, including in Bordeaux and Rhone, Tuscany, California’s Napa Valley and Chile. Meanwhile, northern regions in North America and Europe as well as central China will see increases in suitability for viticulture.

Such climate changes could lead to conflicts in land use and freshwater ecosystems as wine grape producers move their operations to new areas, the study says. Vineyards could be established at higher elevations, increasing impacts on upland ecosystems and leading to the destruction of natural vegetation as large sections of land is cleared to accommodate wine production operations.

Operations that attempt to remain on land currently used for growing in spite of climate change could end up using more water for irrigation and to cool grapes through misting and sprinkling, creating potential for freshwater conservation impacts.

Viticulture is famously sensitive to climate and changes in wine production have been used as a proxy to explain past climate change, the study says. It isn’t the only industry threatened by the effects of climate change.

Increased CO2 pollution — and the ocean acidification it causes — is bad for the oyster industry, researchers say. And last month, New York warned investors that climate change poses a long-term risk to the state’s financial health, citing Hurricane Sandy and tropical storms Irene and Lee, which caused widespread damage and economic losses.

 

 

 

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One thought on “Climate Change Hurts Wine Production, Study Shows

  1. While the headline is titillating and indicates that Napa’s famed wine industry is doomed, the reports belie the fact that there is a lot that is unknown about climate change as it affects the wine industry and particularly Napa Valley. Understanding how climate change might affect our region specifically is critical to the future of the Napa Valley wine industry, which generates a mighty $50 billion for the U.S. economy and more than 300,000 jobs in our country.To help us execute a climate change study specifically for the Napa Valley, the Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a trade association of more than 450 winery members, formed a Climate Study Task Force led by Dr. Dan Cayan and his renowned team of climate scientists at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. The Task Force collected data from 12,000 points from throughout the geographically diverse Napa Valley – from vintners, growers and weather stations. From this massive collection of grass-roots data, the Scripps science team assembled its final report: “Climate and Phenology in Napa Valley: A Compilation and Analysis of Historical Data” (http://www.napavintners.com/about/nvv_climate_exec_summary.pdff) by Dan Cayan, Kimberly Nicholas, Mary Tyree and Michael Dettinger. The report, released in February 2011, indicates that Napa Valley has warmed slightly over recent decades, but not to the degree that has been reported in the studies noted above, which analyze broader California weather station data. According to the Napa Valley-specific data analyzed for our report, the minor warming we have experienced, one to two degrees Fahrenheit, has been observed primarily in overnight temperatures between the months of January to August. In fact, Napa Valley has actually experienced cooler daytime high temperatures and increased marine fog influence during the summer growing season in recent years.

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