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Wed Mar 6, 2019, 08:59 AM

Multiple Weather Shocks Drive 57% Collapse In Italian Olive Harvest; Greece, Portugal Also Hard-Hit

Extreme weather events have been the “main driver” of an olive harvest collapse that could leave Italy dependent on imports from April, a leading climate scientist has warned. A 57% plunge in the country’s olive harvest – the worst in 25 years – sparked protests by thousands of Italian farmers wearing gilet arancioni – orange vests – in Rome earlier this month.

Olive trees across the Mediterranean have been hit by freak events that mirror climate change predictions – erratic rainfalls, early spring frosts, strong winds and summer droughts. Prof Riccardo Valentini, a director of the Euro-Mediterranean Center for climate change, said: “There are clear observational patterns that point to these types of weather extremes as the main drivers of [lower] food productivity.”

He added: “Freezing temperatures in the Mediterranean are anomalous for us. In any direction the extremes are important and indeed, they are predicted by climate change scenarios.” Several reports by the UN intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC) “all point to these climatic extremes as one of the major impacts of climate change”, he said. “We know there will be more extremes and anomalies in the future.”

EDIT

Average temperatures in the Mediterranean have already risen by 1.4C above pre-industrial levels – compared with a global average of about 1C – and precipitation has fallen by 2.5%. In the past 18 months, Italy has experienced summer droughts, autumn floods and spring ice waves. Olive trees are weakened by these kinds of weather shocks and, even if they recover, are left more vulnerable to outbreaks of the xylella fastidiosa bacterium and olive fly infestations, which have hit farmers in Italy and Greece, Valentini said.

EDIT

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/05/italy-may-depend-on-olive-imports-from-april-scientist-says

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