IGPP Seminar Series

Global Change in Local Places: Climate Change and the Future of the California Wine Industry

by Kimberly Nicholas Cahill, Sponsored by the Geoscience Initiative
Stanford University


Human activities such as fossil fuel combustion and land use change are contributing to climate warming. This warming threatens the functioning of Earth’s life support systems and, in turn, the human needs that they support. In particular, agricultural systems are vulnerable to the impacts of changes in climate, with far-reaching implications for how and where we grow crops, and which crops we grow for food, fiber, and energy. I have developed a research approach integrating environmental and human components to evaluate the vulnerability of agricultural systems to climate change. Using California’s wine industry as a model system, I show that this vulnerability is a function of both the degree of climate warming (which, in turn, depends on policy choices about development and energy use) and features of the social system governing the industry. I use modeling to demonstrate that winegrape yields and quality ratings will be affected by climate change at the state level, and I demonstrate a method for using observational and laboratory approaches to examine the effect of climate on winegrapes at the vineyard scale. I also present findings from interviews with growers and wine industry leaders, highlighting some potential opportunities for and limitations to management adaptation and community mitigation efforts as a response to climate change. Ultimately, this research program provides a flexible, integrative framework that can be applied to other communities and agricultural systems to increase resilience in the face of global environmental change.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
3853 Slichter Hall
Refreshments at 3:45 PM
Lecture at 4:00 PM