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Predicted climate changes between now and 2100

Between now and 2100, the climate will change drastically and totally alter growing seasons no matter where you live.

America (Country Appellation)

It’s going to get hotter.

Global warming is fact now. It has a domino effect on water supply, new waves of insects, and the length of growing seasons which will change wine regions and viticulture. What can we do about it?

by Alan Goldfarb
February 2, 2007

By the end of the century, up to 81 percent of the country’s high-to-premium end wine grape production zones will decrease. That’s because by 2050, temperatures will increase by an average of 3.6 degrees across 27 of the U.S.’s wine regions. By 2100, that number will have increased to 4.5 degrees in the western part of the country.

In addition, the global winegrowing regions’ already over-allocated water supply systems will be extremely taxed. Also, because of planetary warming, we’re going to see a heavy increase in the number of insects and also the introduction of species that we’ve never seen before. This, in turn, will result in plant resistance in the varieties on which those insects feed. As a consequence, different cultivars or grapevine varieties will have to be developed.

Those dramatic and dire predictions were put forth recently by a trio of scientists at the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento. The University professors presented their case on the controversial subject of climate change as it pertains to the wine industry.

Dr. Greg Jones, a climatologist at Southern Oregon University, further predicted that we’re going to experience warmer and longer growing seasons, longer dormant periods and altered ripening profiles.

Predicted climate changes between now and 2100 Jones and other climatologists have been weighing in quite heavily and vociferously on what warmer temperatures will bring. But others, such as entomologists and environmental scientists are now beginning to introduce their notions concerning the collateral issues of how insects and water will affect wine grape growing in the future.

“Insects don’t have the ability to control their temperature. As it warms up, we’re going to see an incredible increase in the number of insects,” predicted John Trumble, an entomologist at the University of California, Riverside. Trumble was speaking to a group of about 250 wine industry types in the California capital.

“This is going to be very exciting,” he concluded, with only a touch of irony. “If we get more monsoonal rains coming up from Baja, we’re going to see a dramatic increase in species of insects in California that we’ve never seen before.”

Trumble went on to say that, as periods of weather become warmer, the effect will be to impede the diapauses or hibernation cycle of those insects, and subsequently, they’ll live longer. The astonishing result will be the introduction of new grape vine varieties.

Robert Wilkinson, an environmental scientist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, warned that climate change will bring shortages of water.

“We’re already figuring out how to work with less,” he said as he cited the fact that much of the country’s water supply in wine growing regions comes from snow pack. Alas, he cautioned, “We’re going to get more rain – and less snow.”

He concluded that water systems throughout the winegrowing world will “have scarcity and stress. Managing groundwater will have to get better; recycling will have to increase.”

Greg Jones has an answer for the naysayers, who, interestingly, continue to pooh-pooh the ever-mounting evidence.

  • The year 2005 was the warmest recorded year in the U.S. in the 150 years that such records have been maintained.

  • Each of the last nine years has been among the 25 warmest on record here.

  • Globally, each of the last 15 years has been in the top 25 hottest years on record.
To those nonbelievers, Jones said, “We’re going to see more hot and cold weather” in the foreseeable future.

“As a climatologist, 15 years ago I was on the fence,” he admitted, referring to climate change. “Today, I’m no longer on the fence. Climate in the future will be different than it is today. That’s clear.”

Jones has studied viticulture climate data from 1948 to 2004 and found an increase in average growing-season temperatures worldwide of 2.3 degrees. He suggested that, “It is very hard for humans to conceive how climate was in the past.

“You say 2006 was the coldest growing season? (So) maybe we need to get to a crisis in order to do something about it. … We need to go there, but we need to get beyond economic and political issues. … The question is how we can adapt and mitigate (climate change). We have to be aware of adapting, before we adapt at all.”

Need we say more.

~ Alan Goldfarb, Regional Correspondent

To comment on Alan’s writings and thoughts, contact him at a.goldfarb@appellationamerica.com

Illustrations courtesy of: White, M.A., Diffenbaugh, N.S., Jones, G.V., Pal, J.S., and F. Giorgi (2006). "Extreme heat reduces and shifts United States premium wine production in the 21st century". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 103(30):11217*11222

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Reader Feedback

Reader Comments... [1]

Mark Storer , Writer.Educator.Certified Sommelier
Dear Mr. Goldfarb,
I appreciate your work at Appellation America. It's quite good and as a sommelier and wine writer myself, I really enjoy reading the in-depth stuff you do. That said, your piece on global warming was absurd on its face. In fact, the best quote that makes the absurdity self-evident was "we're going to see more hot and cold weather…" Yeah? You think so?

I'm just astounded that an incredibly nuanced science like climatology and even meteorology to some extent, are getting such play by politicians, pundits and even wine writers. Interview a scientist and suddenly, we have a consensus.

For the record--since there is a 50% probability of the temperature either increasing or decreasing, you have a pretty good shot at reporting climate--and now that it's called "climate change," it has established a useful euphemism. Of course the climate changes. Did you think it stayed static?

What's even funnier is the lede in your piece--the science is settled. This, of course, is the last bastion of the faithful. No scientist worth his or her salt says that anything is settled. In fact, the IPCC report which has spawned all of this punditry is fascinating because the summaries have been released before the science. When the science is released in May, if anyone actually reads the real report, they will find the bits that got buried on page 10 of the local papers when they were released at the end of last year. To wit: Climate scientists have completely backed off their sea level rise numbers from 34 inches in the next 90 years to 17 inches. They have indicated that the past 20 years of temperature monitoring shows a dip in the overall temperature. In the past 100 years, the earth's temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit. They have indicated that the CO2 effect is far from settled because it is not so simple to determine what happens to the heat and radiation once it is back in the atmosphere. In fact, in a new article coming out in a refereed journal on the sun--scientists are considering that some warming may be occurring based on solar flare and sun activity. They also indicate that many of the man-made particulates released into the atmosphere may actually cool the globe.

We could go back and forth and compare science reports all day. You could cut and paste pieces that have scientists "proving" the globe is warming terribly. I could cut and paste articles from scientists that say it isn't.

I point these things out not to disprove that warming is happening. I don't know whether it is or not in the long term--and neither do most scientists. That's the point. There is no "settled science." This is not to suggest we should not seek cleaner and more effective ways to power industry--only that the Kyoto protocol and other draconian measures would destroy economies on a scale that many economists (including former Clinton admin economists) say would make the depression of the 1930's look small by comparison.

I just think that as journalists, we have an obligation to stay somewhat neutral--and for some reason when it comes to climate change--that isn't happening.

Thanks for reading--and for your contributions. I appreciate your work.

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