Box 51 European heatwave impact on the agricultural sector

Europe experienced a particularly extreme climate event during the summer of 2003, with temperatures up to 6°C above long-term means, and precipitation deficits up to 300 mm (see Trenberth et al., 2007). A record drop in crop yield of 36% occurred in Italy for maize grown in the Po valley, where extremely high temperatures prevailed (Ciais et al., 2005). In France, compared to 2002, the maize grain crop was reduced by 30% and fruit harvests declined by 25%. Winter crops (wheat) had nearly achieved maturity by the time of the heatwave and therefore suffered less yield reduction (21% decline in France) than summer crops (e.g., maize, fruit trees and vines) undergoing maximum foliar development (Ciais et al., 2005). Forage production was reduced on average by 30% in France and hay and silage stocks for winter were partly used during the summer (COPA COGECA, 2003b). Wine production in Europe was the lowest in 10 years (COPA COGECA, 2003a). The (uninsured) economic losses for the agriculture sector in the European Union were estimated at €13 billion, with largest losses in France (€4 billion) (Sénat, 2004).

Table 5.1. Quantified impacts of selected African droughts on livestock, 1981 to 1999.



Mortality and species


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