Impact and adaptation opportunities for European agriculture in response to climatic change and variability

M Moriondo, M Bindi, ZW Kundzewicz, M Szwed, A Chorynski, P Matczak, M Radziejewski, D McEvoy, A Wreford

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95 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change, involving changes in mean climate and climatic variability, is expected to severely affect agriculture and there is a need to assess its impact in order to define the appropriate adaptation strategies to cope with. In this paper, we projected a scenario of European agriculture in a +2°C (above pre-industrial levels) world in order to assess the potential effect of climatic change and variability and to test the effectiveness of different adaptation options. For this purpose, the outputs of HadCM3 General Circulation Model (GCM) were empirically downscaled for current climate (1975–2005) and a future period (2030–2060), to feed a process-based crop simulation model, in order to quantify the impact of a changing climate on agriculture emphasising the impact due to changes in the frequency of extreme events (heat waves and drought). The same climatic dataset was used to compare the effectiveness of different adaptations to a warmer climate strategies including advanced or delayed sowing time, shorter or longer cycle cultivar and irrigation. The results indicated that both changes in mean climate and climate variability affected crop growth resulting in different crop fitting capacity to cope with climate change. This capacity mainly depended on the crop type and the geographical area across Europe. A +2°C scenario had a higher impact on crops cultivated over the Mediterranean basin than on those cultivated in central and northern Europe as a consequence of drier and hotter conditions. In contrast, crops cultivated in Northern Europe generally exhibited higher than current yields, as a consequence of wetter conditions, and temperatures closer to the optimum growing conditions. Simple, no-cost adaptation options such as advancement of sowing dates or the use of longer cycle varieties may be implemented to tackle the expected yield loss in southern Europe as well as to exploit possible advantages in northern regions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)657 - 679
Number of pages23
JournalMitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change
Issue number7
Publication statusFirst published - 2010

Bibliographical note



  • Adaptation
  • Agriculture
  • Extreme events
  • Global warming


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