Today’s drought in parts of Europe (Belgium but also Poland, Latvia,...) illustrates the impact of weather and its extremes on agriculture. Although some regions might benefit from climate change, overall the European agrictulture sector will be at risk. Changes in the growing season, more frequent heatwaves and periods of drought,… will impact the quality and yield of crops. Stakeholders need accurate information on the impact of climate change on agriculture such that they can take appropriate measures. The AFTER project aims at investigating the impact of climate change on agriculture and forestry over Europe and Russia. By using state-of-the-art climate projections the project will study how climate indexes relevant for agriculture and forestry will evolve during the next decades and what this means for crops and forests.
In addition to research institutes from Russia, Germany, Latvia and Turkey, Ghent University and VITO are involved. Climate models are often used for simulations over Europe, but there are merely climate projections over Russia and, by extension, Central Asia. For the AFTER project UGent will employ the ALARO climate model to produce high resolution climate projections over Central Asia. Currently the climate runs are ongoing on the BrENIAC supercomputer (Flemish Supercomputer Center). UGent will also be involved in the statistical analysis of extreme weather events over Europe and Russia. Researchers from VITO will process these data to estimate the impact of the climate projections on agriculture and forestry in comparison to current situations.
The AFTER project starts with a kick-off meeting (29/06-30/06) in Gent and ends in 2021. First results are expected in the course of 2019.