Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 11, Supplement 1, pp 151–158 | Cite as

The responses of agriculture in Europe to climate change

Original Article

Abstract

Human activities are projected to lead to substantial increases in temperature that will impact northern Europe during winter and southern Europe during summer. Moreover, it is expected that these changes will cause increasing water shortages along the Mediterranean and in the south-west Balkans and in the south of European Russia. The consequences on the European agricultural ecosystems are likely to vary widely depending on the cropping system being investigated (i.e. cereals vs. forage crops vs. perennial horticulture), the region and the likely climate changes. In northern Europe, increases in yield and expansion of climatically suitable areas are expected to dominate, whereas disadvantages from increases in water shortage and extreme weather events (heat, drought, storms) will dominate in southern Europe. These effects may reinforce the current trends of intensification of agriculture in northern and western Europe and extensification and abandonment in the Mediterranean and south-eastern parts of Europe. Among the adaptation options (i.e. autonomous or planned adaptation strategies) that may be explored to minimize the negative impacts of climate changes and to take advantage of positive impacts, changes in crop species, cultivar, sowing date, fertilization, irrigation, drainage, land allocation and farming system seem to be the most appropriate. In adopting these options, however, it is necessary to consider the multifunctional role of agriculture and to strike a variable balance between economic, environmental and economic functions in different European regions.

Keywords

Agriculture Crops Drought Yield Land use 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was part of the work under Centre for Regional change in the Earth System (CRES) funded by the Danish Strategic Research Council.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Plant, Soil and Environmental ScienceUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Department of Agroecology and EnvironmentAarhus UniversityTjeleDenmark

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