How to tackle climate change in the wine sector

Jul 04, 2019 General

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Insights driven from developing new tailored climate tools to help wineries in production management.

There is scientific evidence that our climate is changing due to the emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) from anthropogenic activities. Although the causes and consequences of climate change are global, impacts differ from region to region and sector to sector. Tackling climate change means reducing our contribution of GHG into the atmosphere through mitigation actions while, at the same time, adapting our lifestyle to new likely scenarios with a different climate.

In this context, which is deeply uncertain, adaptation measures will be key actions in many economic sectors, whose activity can be affected by a change in climate conditions. This is the case of the agricultural sector in which modifications of patterns in precipitation, temperature and extreme events can imply a a significant change in the production and the quality of the final product.

Wine sector and the vineyard management have historically been very sensitive to climate variability. Wine grapes s production is conditioned to a very narrow range of temperatures and precipitation. Indeed, today’s farmers are already experiencing a very large climate variability, which implies variations on production and wine properties year to year. Nevertheless, some farmers are adapting to climate variability by developing, testing and applying innovative smart-climate technologies such as irrigation optimisation, crop forcing or shoot trimming, designed to act against the foreseen climate impacts into the grape production. Even so, the success of these techniques depends on climate and weather forecast. Other essential management actions such as grapevine diseases spraying, pruning or harvest must be planned taking into account climate and weather forecast.

Therefore, climate and weather forecast are essential tools for planning activities in vineyard management. In this context, forecast accuracy plays an important role when making decisions. In short-term forecasts (a few days ahead), accuracy and forecast skill can be acceptable for most of the meteorological situations and can be applied clearly and straightforwardly. However, accuracy and uncertainty normally increase when forecast horizons becomes longer, e. g., several weeks (sub-seasonal scale) or months (seasonal scale), in which making decisions becomes a complex task in a deep uncertainty environment.

Nowadays, Climate Services are developed as new tools which act as a bridge between the climate and weather research and the industry needs trying to make visible and usable the added value of climate predictions. In this sense, Vineyards Integrated Smart Climate Application (VISCA) project was born as a Research & Innovation project funded under H2020 programme and led by METEOSIM. The main objective of VISCA is to provide a Climate Service (CS) and a Decision Support System (DSS) that integrates climate, agricultural and end-users specifications in order to design medium- and long-term adaptation strategies to climate change and climate variability. VISCA DSS aims to make European wine industries resilient to climate variability and climate change through an improvement of production management in terms of quality and quantity of the final product.

VISCA DSS provides forecast in a wide range of weather and climate scales from short-term (2 days ahead), mid-term (10 days ahead) and seasonal (7 months ahead). These forecasts are linked to a phenological model, which provides a forecast of when the different phenological stages are expected to be achieved (bud-break, blooming, fruitset, veraison and ripening after harvest). Also, a mid-term forecast is linked to an irrigation model, which provides irrigation recommendations one week ahead taking in consideration past historical weather and the forecast. VISCA DSS has been already developed and it operationally used in 3 demonstration areas in Spain, Portugal and Italy. You are invited to follow the news of the project through its web page.

The success of a product like VISCA is going to be found in the implication of both scientists and final users in the co-development and co-design of the tools. High quality forecasts and derived products must be end-user oriented and feedback from the use and the added value is key in the developing process. In this sense, METEOSIM will always be committed and focused on the development of tailored tools to help a wide range of sectors to manage the climate and weather actions in their businesses.

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