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Wine lovers may appreciate a dry white, but a lack of steady rainfall brought on by a changing climate is threatening a centuries old winemaking tradition in Italy, according to an international team of scientists.
Researchers found a shift from steady, gentle rains to more intense storms over the past several decades has led to earlier grape harvests, even when seasonal rainfall totals are similar. Early harvests can prevent grapes from fully developing the complex flavors found in wines.
Precipitation - Events - Factor - Temperature - Grapes
Intense precipitation events represent the second most important factor, behind temperature, in predicting when grapes were ready at one vineyard that's been producing wine using traditional methods since the 1650s and recording harvest dates for 200 years, the scientists said.
"Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the increasing tendency of precipitation intensity could exacerbate the effect of global warming on some premium wines that have been produced for almost 400 years," said Piero Di Carlo, associate professor of atmospheric sciences at D'Annunzio University of Chieti-Pescara in Italy.
Winery - Irrigation - Techniques - Records - Climate
Because the winery doesn't use irrigation or other modern techniques, its harvest records more accurately reflect what was happening with the climate each year. Scientists gathered local meteorological data and used models to simulate what factors likely most influenced grape readiness. They recently reported their findings in the journal Science of the Total Environment.
"Because they haven't changed their techniques, a lot of other variables that may have changed harvest date are taken out of the picture," said William Brune, distinguished professor of meteorology at Penn State. "It makes it cleaner statistically to look at things...
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