The Spanish Climate Change Adaptation Plan

Additionally to the EU concerns, the Spanish government and the National institutions are also ready to introduce Climate-Change adaptation actions, taking into account that Spain is one of the most risky countries within Europe. The huge assessment comprised in the Preliminary Evaluation of Climate Change effects in Spain (Moreno, 2005), including the risks of Spanish agriculture (Minguez et al., 2005), has been an important guidelines to develop Climate-change adaptation strategies at the country level.

In general, the Minguez et al. (2005) assessments agree with the IPCC (2007) and the EEA (2006) reports. They all point out that the increase in CO2 concentration and air temperature, as well as changes in seasonal rainfall, would have counteracting and nonuniform effects. The positive effect of CO2 on photosynthetic rates can be compensated by greater temperatures and less precipitation. They also agree that while milder winter temperatures will allow higher crop growth rates if water is sufficiently available, higher summer temperatures can increase evaporative demand and hence irrigation requirements. As highlighted in all the above-cited reports, Minguez et al. (2005) indicated that he expected increase in extreme weather years will difficult crop management and will require more analysis of agricultural systems sustainability.

Minguez et al. (2005) also pointed out that crop simulation models using climate data from Regional Climate Models are nowadays the most efficient tools for impact analysis, as they are able to quantify the non-linear effects of climate change. Furthermore, they indicate the need of identifying regions with different impacts in order to recommend the corresponding adaptation measures.

According to Minguez et al. (2005), short term adaptation strategies can rely on simple management practices such as changes in sowing dates and cultivars. Nevertheless, in the long term, adaptation of cropping systems to future climate conditions is required. Implications on vegetable crops, fruit orchards, olive groves and vineyards should specifically addressed to assess adaptation at minimum cost (Minguez et al., 2005).

Minguez et al. (2005) summarizes that one of the main constraints of Spanish agriculture will be related to water availability for summer-crops agriculture, due to the expected rainfall decrement combined with the temperature rising, particularly in the summer. Furthermore, drought frequency and intensity will be higher in the near future, since it has been observed already from the last 30 years (IPCC, 2007). Along with the IPCC (2007) and the EEA (2006) and (2007) reports, Minguez et al. (2005) point out that weather variability could be the most critical issue in the coming years. The stability and sustainability of Spanish agroecosystems is affected by interannual and seasonal variations in rainfall, water availability for irrigation, the greater or smaller frequency of frost in springtime and the storms that have especial impact on the fruit and vegetable sector. Furthermore, Minguez et al. (2005) indicated also that improving water management efficiency should be a priority.

Minguez et al. (2005) pointed out particularly the influence of the CAP in crop sequences of both dry farming and in irrigation systems. Crop choices are not always the best in agronomic terms, especially in relation to climate and soil, so the sustainability of these agricultural systems is questionable. The progressive reduction of EU subsidies is beginning to affect management decisions, as can be seen in the restructuring and changing geographic distributions of olive groves and vineyards. Therefore, CAP and other European and national policies should be taken into account.

Following the conclusions of the Preliminary Evaluation of Climate Change effects in Spain (Moreno, 2005), the Spanish Climate-Change Office has prepared the National Plan for Adaptation to Climate Change (PNACC, 2006). The Plan comprises action guidelines for the hydraulic resources, the agricultural sector and several other sectors that can be potentially affected by Climate Change.

The PNACC (2006) includes also a Workplan and a Timetable. The first task is to develop Spanish-based Climate-Change scenarios that can be used further for impact assessments at each involved sector. Developing such regional data base was defined as a priority in the EEA (2006) report. The first version of the Spanish Climate-Change scenarios has been already provided by the National Institute of Meteorology (Brunet et al., 2007). Furthermore, due to its extreme importance, assessing Climate-Change effects on the hydraulic resources in Spain is the second commitment included in the PNACC (2006).

Regarding crop agriculture, the PNACC comprises the following guidelines:

• Mapping climate change effects on Spanish agricultural zones.

• Developing crop models to simulate radiation interception, water and nitrogen balances and yields.

• Evaluating irrigation demands according to different scenarios.

• Providing general recommendations for short-term agricultural management under climate change conditions.

• Identifying long term adaptation strategies, particularly in fruits, olives and vineyards.

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