The integration of multiple view points for adaptation/mitigation strategies in the context of warmer and drier future (Part 5)

by | Sep 1, 2020 | Viticulture research, Winetech Technical

The final part of the series deals with the transition of fundamental research into the domain of the decision maker, through web applications to aid long and short term decision making in the context of climate change.

 

Highlights from previous papers in the five part series

The last four articles in the series have highlighted the reality of climate change and the possible impacts on the South African wine industry. The study confirmed the hypothesis that grapevines will respond to climate change and continue to do so in the expression of phenology, growth and ripening, as the grapevine’s performance are affected by the constant environmental parameters despite the differences on vineyard and site level. The plant-based analysis and aspects of the grapevine most affected by climate as isolated from this study can be used to build models with reference to climate change.

The overall novelty in the study is anchored in the integration of multiple viewpoints to assess the grapevine’s response to climate: from climate data analysis to remote sensing combined with a detailed view on the response of the grapevine in growth, ripening and wine style, all in the context of climate change. The study showed seasonal variability to be driving the grapevine’s response, this is concerning with seasonal extreme events predicted to increase. Spatial and temporal data sources need to be integrated to create new spatial and temporal layers of higher resolution, which would aid more insightful within-season decision making and adaptive strategies for a warmer (or cooler) future.

The completion of Dr Southey’s PhD thesis laid a good foundation to integrate different data sources, climate information, as well as remote sensing layers specific to the application and value of climatic indices and chill unit models in the wine sector. The results highlighted that the conventional indices are not always sufficient to highlight the sensitive seasonal differences happening in the context of increased seasonal variability as the indices are based on daily temperatures that average out the changes happening at hourly resolutions. The study highlighted the need for new indices that quantify the observed hours at specific temperature thresholds. Considering climate change, the lapse rate throughout the day is shifting and not always quantified in heat and chill models. There is a need for improved accessibility to hourly temperature data to drive adaptation strategies. It was also highlighted to include other variables like relative humidity and wind into the modelling of grapevine physiological responses based on indices. The study highlighted the need for access to climate data, with a high temporal resolution to best monitor and quantify the changing environment to ensure effective and timeous adaptation strategies that will allow for continued economic sustainability.

 

The way forward: Integration of multiple data sources

Increased seasonal variability has put pressure on the need for an accessible and reliable central climate database. This was also highlighted as a priority from the 2018 survey outcomes when interviewing farmers, researchers and consultants. The accessibility of climate and terrain information has been prioritised by Winetech as a research topic. The research outcomes and TerraClim aligns with an industry need for an interactive tool to access terrain and climate information to aid long and short term decision making at field level. The results from this study can be viewed by way of an online spatial decision support system (www.terraclim.co.za) to farm and field level (Figure 1).

 

FIGURE 1. The TerraClim platform presents high resolution maps of climatic and geographic datasets as a series of dynamic map layers. The maps can be visualised and overlaid in any given area, much like in a geographic information system.

 

TerraClim is an extension of this study integrating data resources into a central database with a user-friendly interface that allows users to obtain pertinent information about climate, terrain and soils to aid long and short term agricultural decision making. This study has integrated and extended through TerraClim with software development for collation of meteorological and logger data; wireless logger development and deployment. The study highlighted the value of data integration for machine learning applications, like to predict soil temperature from ambient temperature. TerraClim has improved on the software, hardware and data display options in the field for climate, remote sensing and plant responses, collating information in an efficient way to better understand the impact of climate change.

TerraClim combines terrain data (supplied by GeoSmart) with weather station data (obtained from several data providers) to model climatic conditions at any location within a specified region (e.g. Western Cape). TerraClim’s climate surfaces are unique in that they are at very high spatial (up to 2 m) and temporal (hourly) resolutions. This is achieved by combining weather station data and Geosmart’s (www.geosmart.space) 2 m resolution digital elevation models (DEMs) – along with advanced geostatistical and machine learning techniques and high performance computing provided by the Centre for Geographical Analysis (CGA) at Stellenbosch University – to model climatic conditions within production units (e.g. orchard or vineyard blocks) (Figure 2). The TerraClim project has a strong research and development component that involves frequently updating and extending the climate and terrain databases, automated data collection, interpolation protocol development, as well as the extension of existing logger and weather station networks.

 

FIGURE 2. The TerraClim platform presents high resolution temperature maps, the unique adaptive colours tab when enabled, adjusts the colour ramp (and legend) to the area being viewed within the extent of the viewing window. This provide a more detailed spatial description of temperature changes at field level for a specific day and/or hour.

 

This tool allows the wine industry and the agricultural sector in general to better understand the complexity of the Western Cape’s climate and terrain at a higher spatial (geographical) resolution for improved adaptation to climate change.

The research and development within TerraClim has identified priority locations in the Western Cape for the establishment of additional weather stations in the future (Figure 3). To ensure a more homogenous spatial network of weather stations, overcoming the problem of sparsely and irregular distribution of stations. The expanded weather station network would allow for improved climate change analysis over the extent of the Western Cape at a higher spatial resolution. The establishment of additional weather stations will have a positive impact on climate surface accuracies in the future.

 

FIGURE 3. Map of some of the newly identified priority locations in the Western Cape for the establishment of additional weather stations, which would ensure a more homogenous spatial network of weather stations for improved accuracy of temperature maps in the future.

 

Secondly, TerraClim has recently installed a high density network of newly developed wireless temperature and relative humidity loggers to better understand the relationship of environmental factors and terrain elements (Figure 4). The integration of 2 m terrain derivatives with high density of hourly data points through automated real-time workflows will provide the project with new research outcomes for method improvements.

 

FIGURE 4. Map of the recently installed high density, low cost wireless temperature and relative humidity logger network for further research and development within the TerraClim platform.

 

TerraClim continues to develop efficient techniques for producing accurate, high resolution climate surfaces (including rainfall, humidity and wind) covering the entire Western Cape province, and to expand the functionality of the TerraClim webapp (www.terraclim.co.za), including an interactive reporting system, query functionality and crop suitability analysis.

 

Key take-home message

In the context of cultivar adaptation to a changing environment, new economic challenges in wine grape production, as well as expanding viticultural areas in South Africa, a need exists to integrate agro-climatology with geographic information systems (GIS), as well as remote sensing technologies currently available (Figure 1). To this end, data capturing, processing and system development to implement data visualisation to consultants and industry role players are crucial aspects. Currently there are many sources of data, as well as models being developed to add value to this data, but there are few attempts to integrate technologies, as well as to roll it out into the wine industry.

The study outcomes integrated with TerraClim has and continues to provide new data sources for future research in the field of high resolution spatial and temporal resolution climate and remote sensing data specific to the wine industry. What sets TerraClim apart in the growing AgTech space, is the strong research and development foundation. The TerraClim platform presents high resolution maps of climatic and geographic datasets as a series of dynamic map layers. Such datasets could guide farm- and field-level adaptive strategies for leveraging change and building resilience in the face of climate uncertainty in the Western Cape. View the web interface at www.terraclim.co.za and provide feedback to tara@sun.ac.za, we endeavour to improve the tool based on your feedback.

 

Abstract

The final part of the series deals with the transition of fundamental research into the domain of the decision maker, through a web application (www.terraclim.co.za) to aid long and short term decision making in the context of climate change. The last four articles in the series have highlighted the reality of climate change and proved that the grapevine will respond to the environmental changes. The inaccessibility to climate data faced in the study and the wine industry underpinned the establishment of an accessible and reliable central climate data of high temporal resolution, to aid infield decision making. Spatial and temporal data sources need to be integrated to create new spatial and temporal layers of higher resolution, which would aid more insightful within-season decision making and adaptive strategies for a warmer (or cooler) future. TerraClim is an extension of this study integrating multiple data resources into a central database with a user-friendly interface that allows users to obtain pertinent information about climate, terrain and soils to aid long and short term agricultural decision making, building resilience in the face of climate uncertainty in the Western Cape.

 

– For more information, contact Tara Southey at tara@sun.ac.za or visit www.terraclim.co.za.

 

Dr. Tara Southey

Dr. Tara Southey

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