Assessing the climate change vulnerability of European winegrowing regions by combining exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity indicators

Winegrowing regions recognized as protected designations of origin (PDOs) are closely tied to well defined geographic locations with a specific set of pedoclimatic attributes and strictly regulated by legal specifications. However, climate change is increasingly threatening these regions by changing local conditions and altering winegrowing processes. The vulnerability to these changes is largely heterogenous across different winegrowing regions because it is determined by individual characteristics of each region, including the capacity to adapt to new climatic conditions and the sensitivity to climate change, which depend not only on natural, but also socioeconomic and legal factors. Accurate vulnerability assessments therefore need to combine information about adaptive capacity and climate change sensitivity with projected exposure to new climatic conditions. However, most existing studies focus on specific impacts neglecting important interactions between the different factors that determine climate change vulnerability. Here, we present the first comprehensive vulnerability assessment of European wine PDOs that spatially combines multiple indicators of adaptive capacity and climate change sensitivity with high-resolution climate projections. We found that the climate change vulnerability of PDO areas largely depends on the complex interactions between physical and socioeconomic factors. Homogenous topographic conditions and a narrow varietal spectrum increase climate change vulnerability, while the skills and education of farmers, together with a good economic situation, decrease their vulnerability. Assessments of climate change consequences therefore need to consider multiple variables as well as their interrelations to provide a comprehensive understanding of the expected impacts of climate change on European PDOs. Our results provide the first vulnerability assessment for European winegrowing regions at high spatiotemporal resolution that includes multiple factors related to climate exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity on the level of single winegrowing regions. They will therefore help to identify hot spots of climate change vulnerability among European PDOs and efficiently direct adaptation strategies.

Authors: Simon Tscholl1,2, Sebastian Candiago3,2, Thomas Marsoner2, Helder Fraga4, Carlo Giupponi3, and Lukas Egarter Vigl2

1Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria
2Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, Bozen/Bolzano, Italy
3Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Department of Economics, Venezia, Italy 
4Centre for the Research and Technology of Agro-Environmental and Biological Sciences, University of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro, Vila Real, Portugal


Keywords: adaptation, climate change, geographical indication, viticulture, vulnerability

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