Expected impacts of climate change in Europe during this century

Wide ranging impacts of changes in current climate have been documented in Europe in the last decades, tte observed changes are consistent with projections of impacts due to anthropogenic climate change, tte warming trend and spatially variable changes in rainfall have already affected managed ecosystems (EEA 2005b).

For instance the European heat wave in 2003 had major impacts on agricultural systems and society by decreasing the quantity and quality of the harvests, particularly in Central and Southern Europe, tte winter crops already suffered from the effects of a harsh winter and late spring frost, tte heat wave that began in early June accelerated crop development by 10 to 20 days, thus advancing ripening and maturity. Winter-spring cereals formed grain with insufficient soil moisture, tte very high air temperature and solar radiation resulted in a notable increase in the crops' water consumption, ttis, together with the summer dry spell, resulted in an acute depletion of soil water and lowered crop yields. Even in Switzerland river withdrawals for agricultural use were banned, thus affecting producers of potatoes and tobacco. Over all of Europe, the main sectors hit by the extreme climate conditions were the green fodder supply, the arable sector, the livestock sector and forestry. Potato and wine production were also seriously affected, tte fodder deficit varied from 30% (Germany, Austria and Spain) to 40% (Italy) and 60% in France and the livestock farmers suffered the most. In Switzerland, fodder had to be imported from as far away as Ukraine, tte fall in cereal production in EU reached more than 23 million tonnes (MT) as compared to 2002. More than 26,000 fires were recorded in Portugal, Spain, Italy, France, Finland, Austria, Denmark and Ireland, tte estimate is that some 70,000 hectares of forest area (not including agricultural areas) were burned, tte global financial impact of the drought and the forest fires in Europe was estimated to amount to 14 billion €. Summer 2003 showed also the additional side effects, which were felt in the next year such as problems of soil erosion and flooding, effects on winter sowing, and the budding of trees (COPA CO-GECA 2003).

Under a changing climate, drier conditions and rising temperatures in the Mediterranean region and parts of eastern Europe may lead to lower yields. Bindi and Moriondo (2005) showed a general reduction in yield of agricultural crops in the Mediterranean region, under the IPCC SRES A2 and B2 scenarios by 2050 even when the fertilising effect of increased CO2 is taken into account (Table 8.1). Similar yield reductions have also been estimated for eastern Europe, with increased variability in yield, especially in the steppe regions (Maracchi et al. 2004).

Climate-related increases in crop yields are mainly expected in Northern Europe. For example wheat yield increase is projected to be +2 to +9% by year 2020, +8 to +25% by year 2050 and +10 to +30% byyear 2080 (Olesen et al. 2006, Auds-

Table 8.1 Changes of crop yields (%) for some Mediterranean regions by 2050 (modified from Bindi and Moriondo, 2005)

A2

B2

A2

B2

Without C02

With C02

C4 summer

N-W

0.2

5.8

4.2

8.8

N-E

-4.4

-2.5

-0.6

0.2

Legumes

N-W

-24.9

-13.4

-14.4

-4.9

N-E

-18.6

-8.1

-7.2

1.0

C3 summer

N-W

-21.8

-10.4

-12.4

-2.9

N-E

-15.6

-6.9

-5.4

1.0

Tubers

N-W

-10.4

-4.2

4.9

7.5

N-E

-22.5

-6.8

-9.3

4.4

Cereals

N-W

-11.0

-3.5

-0.3

4.7

N-E

-6.8

3.7

4.4

12.5

N-W = Portugal, Spain, France and Italy; N-E = Serbia, Greece and Turkey

N-W = Portugal, Spain, France and Italy; N-E = Serbia, Greece and Turkey ley et al. 2006, Alexandrov et al. 2002, Ewert et al. 2005). Another example is sugar beet yield increase of 14-20% until the 2050s in England and Wales (Richter and Semenov 2005).

Uncertainties in the projection of future precipitation complicate the estimates of future yield gains or losses, ttis is particularly true for southern and southeastern Europe, where water will be a critical factor for agriculture in the future. In these areas, model results diverge to a great extent, depending on the scenarios in use and the model itself. For central and northern Europe, where water supply is less critical, projections are relatively robust.

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