How is climate change affecting the water requirement of agricultural crops across Europe?

Policy Question
Indicator codes: CLIM 033

Key messages

(20 Dec 2016)

  • Climate change led to an increase in the crop water demand and thus the crop water deficit from 1995 to 2015 in large parts of southern and eastern Europe; a decrease has been estimated for parts of north-western Europe.
  • The projected increases in temperature will lead to increased evapotranspiration rates, thereby increasing crop water demand across Europe. This increase may partly be alleviated through reduced transpiration at higher atmospheric CO2 levels.
  • The impact of increasing water requirements is expected to be most acute in southern and central Europe, where the crop water deficit and irrigation requirements are projected to increase. This may lead to an expansion of irrigation systems, even in regions currently without irrigation systems. However, this expansion may be constrained by projected reductions in water availability and increased demand from other sectors and for other uses.

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