RealClimate logo

English vineyards again….

Filed under: — gavin @ 10 November 2006

Readers may recall a thorough examination of the history of English wine here a few months ago – chiefly because the subject tends to come up as a contrarian climate talking point every now and again. The bottom line from that post was that the English wine industry is currently thriving and has a geographical extent and quality levels that are unprecedented in recorded history. So whether vineyards are a good proxy for climate or not, you certainly can’t use the supposed lack of present day English vineyards in any serious discussion about climate….

So along comes this quote today (promoting Fred Singer’s latest turnaround) (my emphasis):

“The Romans wrote about growing wine grapes in Britain in the first century,” says Avery, “and then it got too cold during the Dark Ages. Ancient tax records show the Britons grew their own wine grapes in the 11th century, during the Medieval Warming, and then it got too cold during the Little Ice Age. It isn’t yet warm enough for wine grapes in today’s Britain. Wine grapes are among the most accurate and sensitive indicators of temperature and they are telling us about a cycle. They also indicate that today’s warming is not unprecedented.”

Hmmm…. so where did that bottle of Chapel Down in my fridge come from? (thanks Dad!) Or the winners of the ‘Best Sparkling Wine’ for the last two years at the International Wine and Spirit Competition? This is of course a trivial point, but it demonstrates (once again) that our contrarian friends don’t even have a semblence of a desire to get it right. The lure of a talking point clearly trumps the desire for accuracy.

In vino veritas (though not in this case).

Update: We had the Chapel Down Flint Dry last night. Fruity, hints of apple and pear and one of better whites I’ve had in a while. Highly recommended!

102 Responses to “English vineyards again….”

  1. 51
    Jack says:

    Thinking for a moment, I don’t see why there’s such a big deal about growing wine grapes in cold climates. They grow wine grapes on an island in Lake Erie (Catawba), and the Finger Lakes region of New York State isn’t exactly noted for mild winters.

    Re: #22 and #28 — possibly THE Pete Best?

  2. 52
    jane awty says:

    English vineyards – a view from one: Our vineyard in South-West England, Oatley Vineyard, Somerset, was planted in 1986 and has produced wine every year from 1989. For a small vineyard the wines have a good record of awards in the Wine Magazine International Wine Challenge, the largest international blind-tasting, with 13 awards in 15 years. This suggests vines are easily viable here now.

    The 2 varieties we grow are both vitis vinifera, the traditional european vine, so owe nothing to modern hybridisation for their reliable performance at these latitudes, as one of your respondents suggested. For the last three years we have harvested a week earlier than in the early 1990s.

    After strong English performance for the last few years in European champagne competitions, the most-planted vines recently in the rapidly-expanding English wine industry have been Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, the traditional champagne grapes. We in the industry await results with interest.

    [Response: Thanks for dropping by! It’s always good to hear from people who are actually at the sharp end of these issues… – gavin]

  3. 53
    Matt says:

    #50, You obviously don’t look out the window enough, when has a stormwater drain ever coped with a 100 year flood, they simply don’t. Granted dams etc are built up to spec, but houses quite often topple in the strongest earthquakes. Building codes are not up to scratch now and never will be because of the difficulty in meeting standards, this is no different for people who suggest we ‘eliminate’ carbon. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try, i’m just saying if you go overboard the recession that follows will make 1929 look like a fairground ride. You said “Consider designing a building in an earthquake zone. You don’t design it to withstand the “most likely” quake, you design it to withstand the strongest quake that could occur over a given – long – period. In other words, you design for a low probability, high impact event.” Well I live in New Zealand, most buildings in New Zealand are residential and a variety of ages. Most I would hazard are not particularly earthquake proof despite living on the rim of fire(pacific rim). You might think it costly to insure all these houses, but to reinforce all these houses against 1 in a million odds is foolish. Nobody aims to resist the far right of any bell curve, only the most likely results of global warming should be prepared for, otherwise I suggest we will be throwing good money after bad. I am not sayiing “don’t worry about it”. All i’m saying is don’t go over the top, moderation rather than maximum prevention. Back on topic, why would British wine growers want global warming to cease now? Surely if we go to extremes to cool the planet you will lose business back to the French, and we don’t want that do we.

  4. 54
    Glen Fergus says:

    #50, #44, #35 and risk

    Pretty soon the climate community may need to learn the fundamentals of risk analysis. It’s the product of probability and consequence that matters – the definition of engineering risk. Our world is everywhere engineered to keep that product acceptably small. That seldom means that we design for the worst case; but nor does it mean we use the expected value.

    What are the probabilities of +1, +2, +3, +10C at 2050? And what are the consequences that go with those (dollars, deaths, misery)? I’ll warrant that it isn’t going to be the probability x consequence near the expected value that governs the total risk. It rarely is – engineering is done at the tails of the distributions. Even is there’s only a one in million chance of +10C, it may be worth spending trillions to avoid the chance, because the consequence may well be annihilation.

  5. 55
    James Davey says:

    Glen, re #54

    If you want a probability analysis of long term global mean temperature rise, try “Avoiding dangerous climate change” (2006)

    If you want the range of cost of the consequences, try The Stern Review, which is available online.

  6. 56
    Timothy says:

    #3, Indeed. China Mieville has written a good column about this recently:
    The Lies that aren’t Meant to Deceive Us

    It’s remarkable that, despite everything, these people are still successfully controlling the debate. There is still little or no mass media discussion of the steps required to avoid climate change. If they do mention it, they are still stuck on steps such as “turning lights off”, etc, or that debate has been hijacked by the pro-nuclear lobby.

  7. 57
    Patrick Austin says:

    I am greatly indebted to the English Wine industry. An educational bonanza that started 10 years ago with Wine Studies at an agricultural college in Sussex, finished with a PhD in Environmental Change at UCL in London….don’t ask me how, but plenty of English wine helped me through it all!

  8. 58
    Gareth says:

    Re 53

    You might think it costly to insure all these houses, but to reinforce all these houses against 1 in a million odds is foolish. Nobody aims to resist the far right of any bell curve, only the most likely results of global warming should be prepared for, otherwise I suggest we will be throwing good money after bad.

    I live in NZ too, Matt, and our housing stock is only insurable against earthquake damage because the government underwrites the business through the Earthquake Commission. The EQC also promotes taking cost-effective steps to reduce potential damage in the existing housing stock. But our building codes do insist that new buildings meet strict standards – and NZ is an important centre of excellence in designing to resist earthquake damage. Building codes are not sexy in political terms, but they are very important in terms of mitigating and adapting to climate change. In NZ, mandating solar hot water systems in new buildings would significantly reduce electricity demand. Promoting efficient design and building techniques can hugely reduce heating/cooling requirements, with the same effect.

    In insisting that “only the most likely results” should be taken into account, you are ignoring the reality of engineering for risk, as #54 points out. Governments both central and local have to factor this concept of risk into all the stuff they build. And doing it now will be a lot cheaper than rebuilding later.

  9. 59

    Re 34 $ 36, Barley returns to Greenland,

    I cite the September 7 2006 _Economist_ in my blog aricle,’Eric the green?’ at

  10. 60
    Rob Miller says:

    Ok, here is my take. The real reason that, as a subset of agriculture, viticulture is so interesting, is that its success in any given latitude is so narrowly climate dependent. Do we take it for a barometer, a bellweather, or perhaps a canary in a coal mine? The fact of the matter is that the entire development of agriculture in the Holocene has been toward limited diversity and marginal to non-existent adaptability to changes outside of tightly limited climatic regimes. Now we are experiencing a change in climatic regimes outside the adaptable range of our god-forsakenly limited crops, and we are rightly anguished about the source of our next meal.

  11. 61

    Climate change may be a journey without maps, but whose ?
    To Gavin and Michael, moving isotherms spell alarm, but to an agronomist , migrating changes in crop limits are intrinsic to human history. Now that we have GIS software , it might be interesting to use the rubber graph paper to stretch the present whereabouts of major cities to fit the future isotherms outlined by the limting IPCC scenarios , to see how different the demographic fit to future climate looks.

    This obviously requires some mitigation, as latitude and average temperature do not monotonically map into each other- EG. Baltimore is a bit cooler than New York.

    Still, Humboldtian isotherms are getting a bit tired as a visual metaphor , and it would be nice to have some new metrics to think over- I cannot recall seeing here any dimensional analysis dealing with this problem in degrees per degree K

  12. 62
    Steve Sadlov says:

    RE: #52 – Southwest England is excellent Pinot country. Some of the best Pinots I’ve had here in the US were from grapes grown west of Portland Oregon and just east of Seattle.

  13. 63
    JohnLopresti says:

    Doubtless we will discover, as so many times in history in the British Isles, some devout monk duly inscribed on parchment in miniscule detail the history of decades growing the vines in century X and beyond. The modern science at UC Davis using the Winkler heat summation model is very precise; in fact, reading the AVA appellation designation certifications on file at BATF for the new famous US CA winegrowing regions, one finds as part of the expert affidavits, testimony always includes the heat summation. And within each AVA local thermographs have registered yearly fluctuations; it commonly is one factor utilized by prospective purchasers of vineyard land, as many have preconceived selections of varietals which they wish to plant; though, as land buying has increased and viticultural and enologic sciences advanced, land buyers often have a flexible attitude, willing to opt for the varietal, clone and root stock combination best adapted for the terroir of the microclimate.
    Our place is in a highland zone between two certified AVAs; consider the following excerpt from the AVA document onfile with the government for the new pinot noir specialized zone called Yorkville Highlands, which commences approximately two miles from our homestead.
    Unofficial heat summation data collected at the Weir Vineyards within the area reflects a four year average of 3,060, compared to approximately 2,500 in Boonville and Philo to the northwest of the
    viticultural area and 3,650 reported by the University of California Agricultural Extension Service in Cloverdale, to the southeast.
    Average annual rainfall within the Yorkville Highlands area from 1961 through 1990, as measured by the Department of Water Resources, Eureka Flood Center at the Yorkville Station, was 50.55 inches. The Anderson Valley, to the northwest, receives an average of only 40.7 inches of rain per year.
    The preceding cite is written evidently by a chateau owner. Usual technical literature of the sort consultants utilize is more scientific, and the heat summation spreads are refined in increments as slight as 10-50 degree-days.
    I continue to think Gavin has discovered a trove of possible litmus information appropriate for refining climate science. Some of the comments upthread reminded me of the history of vinifera as a plant material often traced in parallel with tribe migrations. Some of this is seen in modern DNA research into varietal origins which seem to trace near prehistoric tribal progress in reverse chronology west eastward from Europe thru Mesopotamia, Caucasus, and to Indus. The vitaciae are in steamcourses and caves planetwide; though useful for breeding hybrids, NY state famous for that; Catawba in OH, also helpful for rootstocks, e.g. the infamous AxR1 which in monoculture soon succumbed to one specific phylloxera genotype, now most blocks replanted to other rootstocks. For the neophyte, AxR is a designer rootstock mix between France’s Aramon, a Mediterranean area known for table grapes not wine, or at least only bulk wine euphemistically called, and R for rupestris, a south central US rupestrian grape. I suspect own-rootedness was the way old English grapes were planted, as they were in France until the US pests were reexported accidentally in late century XIX, causing a pestilence among France’s best vineyards, forcing growers there to utilize rootstocks, or treat soil, or accept very brief lifespan vines, though the best beverate derives from plants with more longevity, i.e exceeding 50 years.

    And, Hank R., given Jerry Pournelle’s legion penchant for a certain potable barley byproduct, I would expect that searchstring to yield his name on page 1, among links 1-10.


  14. 64
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #12, that’s pretty selfish, Vern. I just gave a presentation at my U on GW & the International Media. As usual most attendees knew squat about GW, so I spent some time explaining the basics, including a section on “consequences.”

    I started off by saying their would be some benefits, but that the harms would greatly outweigh those benefits. In fact they’re discussing this point in Nairobi now at the CC conference. Africa with some 900 million people will be most grossly harmed by severe droughts & such, as will much of Asia — when the Himalayan glaciers melt, it could put up to 40% of India and China at risk of starvation. They need the glaciers to stay put & accumulate snow in the winter, then have the summer melt-water feed their irrigation canals. Once the glaciers are gone, it’ll mean flooding in winter and zero water during the summer agriculture season.

    I think most people concerned about GW are concerned about the harms to others, in other places, in the future. It’s just not right to harm & kill other people willy nilly.

    OTOH, while I was in the north, I did enjoy some balmy winter days. So go ahead and enjoy whatever benefits there are from GW, but please do work like a dog to end it.

  15. 65
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Another point, it’s the cooler climates that make for the best wine grapes. Ergo, it must have been nice & cool during those Roman times.

  16. 66
    Wang Dang Sweet says:

    Re #64 I hope during your presentation you pointed out that recently professor Zhang Wenjing, glacier expert at the Chinese Acadeny of Science, called predictions of rapid melting of the Himalayan glaciers “excessively pessimistic” and stated “so far glaciers in the middle and eastern part of the Himalayas have not shrunk on any large scale” and “The glaciers in the region are melting comparatively slowly.” He suggested that the melting of these glaciers would take centuries not decades. I wonder if the people who attended your presentation still know squat about GW.

  17. 67
    Ack! says:

    Avery? Would that be Dennis Avery of the HUDSON INSTITUTE? this Dennis Avery:


    I swear (wiping away tear) these guys all go to the same school. Maybe it Kent Hovind’s Patriot University. I’m surprised nobody caught that.

  18. 68
    j hansford says:

    Just wondering…. For viking settlers to have settled on a greenland free of permafrost which would have had to have been the case around the area they settled. Wouldn’t the temperature back in this period around 900ad to 1400ad been significanly warmer than it is now???

    [Response: The greenland settlements are not in permafrost regions. See these photos etc. . But even if they were, Greenland is not the world and temperatures there are not necessarily representative of hemispheric or global anomalies. Estimating those hemispheric temperatures is difficult, but as Osborn and Briffa demonstrate the nature of the medieval climate is qualitatively different to current trends. – gavin]

  19. 69
    j hansford says:

    I was reading a paper by Dr Tim Patterson. I’ll try and link it.

    Also, what do you reckon about solar effects on weather compared to Atmospheric CO2 specially now the statisphere is cooling contrary to computor models

    Also there are observed warming trends on Mars, Only nine years of observations but there to see nontheless.

    Off topic I know… I’m filling my wine glass at this moment…. A sweet red Dolcetto & Syrah from Victoria Australia. LOL.

    [Response: Actually, stratospheric cooling is one of the most robust predictions of greenhouse gas forcing, in contrast to the warming one would expect from solar forcing. Ozone depletion also plays a role (something else that Patterson probably doesn’t believe either…). On Mars, see this post: -gavin]

  20. 70
  21. 71
    Hank Roberts says:

    >69, the link to TCS

    Dr. Patterson is on the faculty of the Geology Dep’t. at Carleton.

    From the TCS article — extensively illustrated, clearly written — he teaches his students that sunspots control climate.

    Interesting. Anyone from Carleton reading?

    He says nothing there about stratosphere temperatures.

    What’s your source for your claim that “the statisphere is cooling contrary to computor models” — somewhere else at TCS? where did you get it, why do you believe your source?

    TCS is published by DCI Group, a Republican public affairs consulting and lobbying firm based in Washington DC.

  22. 72
    Julian Flood says:

    Re 52:

    I doubt if your varieties are the same as the Roman ones. The oldest variety I grow is probably Apifolia, and that’s certainly been around since the 18th century, and that needs a good summer to be reliable. Purpurea is very old, but it does what you’d expect of an old variety, sour grapes which only ripen against a warm wall.

    I hope you’re trying Rondo: as red wine it’s good regardless of its provenance. For English red it’s amazing. And try Bacchus — buy a bottle and boggle.

    Darwin rules. Things have come on since the Romans — as Jan Ridd says, all I know is that wheat is better now than when I began to sow it.

    Julian Flood

  23. 73
    Eli Rabett says:

    Actually the stratosphere is cooling according to both observations AND computer models.

  24. 74
    Eli Rabett says:

    John Lopresti raises an interesting point. As I understand it (only from a brief Google), the Winkler heat summation index is a count of degree days in a year, and it is a good indicator of various stages in the flowering and harvesting from grape vines. Pfister’s Central Europe temperature and precipitation data base (1525-1979) has a large number of records about the dates of these events at various locations. Each event has been used as aseparate proxy for temperature HOWEVER I wonder if Winkler’s method could be inverted to get a better proxy measure of temperature?

  25. 75
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    RE #66, I didn’t mention when the glaciers might melt. (I figured in more than 100 years.) But does it matter when they melt (if indeed they do)? Are people of this century more valuable than people of later centuries? (I know some economist will jump in here and explain why they are…)

    David Archer in an earlier RC article said that up to one-fourth of our CO2 emissions could last up to 100,000 years in the atmosphere. That’s a lot of bang per molecule of emission (assuming we aren’t able to take CO2 out effectively). I think we need an accounting system that goes beyond 2100 and gives us some (very rough) idea about how much harm our emissions might have over their lifetime in the atmosphere. Then, perhaps as tech comes online, we might reduce that calculation. Maybe the glaciers won’t melt away entirely. But we do need to think about scenarios beyond 2100.

  26. 76

    Contrary to Fred Singer’s assertion in the November 4 issue of his newsletter The Week That Was my November 3 Wall Street Journal Europe Op-ed, “Nullius in verba” ( which text he links) makes no reference whatever to the Stern Report , which was released weeks after the op-was submitted. Not yet having read the Stern Report, I have written nothing discussing it

  27. 77
    j hansford says:

    Thanks for responding Gavin, got more questions though….

    I read that link you gave me and the SPARC link,

    I read it and noted that computer models where at odds with observations in the tropical air masses above Indonesia. Yes I did have a few things cleared up.

    However the biggest surprise I got from the SPARC site was that Water Vapor plays a huge role in heat transfer, chemistry and mixing of air masses while CO2 seems to play rather a minor role…

    Considering that of the total green house gases in the atmosphere, water vapor makes up around 95% while CO2 makes up only 3.618% of all green house gases when all, INCLUDING Water Vapor, are factored in.

    So how significant IS water vapor and is it a more effective transporter of heat energy in the upper atmosphere. especially when it is so important in chemical reactions within the stratosphere?

    Why are we concentrating so much on CO2, when Water Vapor is so significant?

    Just a last point. I have read several times that CO2 concentrations seem to lag behind warming periods. As I understand it though this is still a matter of debate and ongoing study… Do you know anything more on this?

    [Response: -gavin]

  28. 78
    Hank Roberts says:

    These may help; there’s both an adult version:

    and a version for primary school level:

  29. 79
    caerbannog says:

    Why are we concentrating so much on CO2, when Water Vapor is so significant?

    Because CO2 is a forcing element while water vapor is a feedback element.

  30. 80
    j hansford says:

    I think you’ll find that as a gas both have the same thermal properties….. Only difference being is that Water Vapor is much more efficient at storing heat energy than CO2… I’m pretty sure I’m correct in this…. I’ll go read something on Latent heat and the properties of gases…

  31. 81
    j hansford says:

    This site has an easy to read explaination for the Absorbtion of energy…. There are probably more technical ones but this’ll serve.

    This other site has some more info on energy absorbtion and transfer as well.

  32. 82
    Catastrophe says:

    Not much of an argument gavin. How was the British wine industry 100 years ago?I suspect Singers argument is more on the money here.

  33. 83
  34. 84
    Lynn Vincentnathan says:

    Re #66 & Tibetan glaciers, here’s something I just read re how fast they are melting:

    So it seems there’s some big discrepancy on this among the scientists.

  35. 85
    Neal J. King says:

    j hansford,

    My simple-minded view of the relative significance of water vapor and CO-2:

    – Nothing we are doing, to first order, affects the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere. Even if we were to generate lots of water, as long as the temperature conditions don’t change, it won’t affect the average amount of water vapor in the air. Why? Because this water vapor is ultimately in contact with a lot of liquid water. The presence of this liquid water puts a lower limit on how much water vapor will be in the air; and the atmospherics of temperature lapse rate, condensation points, etc. put an upper limit. To a first order of procedure, the amount of water vapor in the air is not on a secular trend (not heading upwards or downwards).
    – However, as global average temperature goes up, the atmosphere’s ability to hold water vapor increases. So an increase in GAT, for whatever reason, does result in an increase in the amount of water vapor in the air, and that will add to the greenhouse effect. This “second-order” effect adds a kicker to any driving influence that increases temperature. (It would work in the other direction as well: anything that would cause a decrease in GAT would get a kicker for further reduction.)
    – I believe this is what is meant by saying that water vapor is not a “driver”/”forcing element” but a “feedback”.
    – So the point is that even if we were creating lots of new water and dumping it into the ocean, it wouldn’t change much of anything. (And anyway, we aren’t.)
    – Whereas, however small the proportion of CO-2 is with respect to water vapor, that proportion is actually increasing.
    – You could say, “With all the variation in water vapor due to weather, it should swamp the effect of CO-2.” Yes, but the fact that it varies without a trend means that it doesn’t matter, for the issue of increase of the greenhouse effect. Analogy: You’re sitting in a bathtub, swirling around the water, and the water tap is on. If you consider the possibility of the tub overflowing, should you worry about your swirling around, or should you worry about the water coming from the taps? It should be the taps, because although the motion generated from the water flow is small compared to your swirling, it’s only the increase in water coming from the taps that is contributing to the possibility of tub-overflow.

  36. 86
    Nigel Williams says:

    A comment at
    by The Rt. Hon. Lord Lawson former Chancellor of the Exchequer, while handsomly writ seems to suggest that the english wine industry is doing very well. At least he’s buying some!

    His summary dismissal of the likely impact of climate change over the coming century is a rather out of step with the noises being made here at RealClimate.

    Another interesing item at
    Seems to confirm that something of moment really is afoot..

    “Including 2006, September sea ice is declining at a rate of approximately 8.6 percent per decade, or 60,421 square kilometers (23,328 square miles) per year. The NSIDC science team reported that at this rate, the Arctic Ocean will have no ice in September by the year 2060. NSIDC scientist Mark Serreze said…”

    I imagine that we will be growing very fine warm-climate grapes at John O’Groats by then!

  37. 87
    Matt says:

    Is it true there was no ice at times in the 30’s in the Arctic? or is that another red herring.
    Hey Gareth, #54 actually said we do not meet the worst standards, this is true, leaky buildings anyone. The real world always finds economic realities are different from government and regulatory ideals. ie Builders take shortcuts. If the IPCC for example says 1.4 to 4.5 or whatever range then sure take that at face value, but bear in mind the 4.5 is unlikely till realisable, to take action before this will waste a lot of resources better served to, i dunno ….. research on carbon mitigation. Remember guys we are talking about 0.6C in 150 years, hitchhikers guide time…”Don’t panic”. Incidentally, #54, trillions to avoid destruction by an event of 1 in a million, maybe, sounds like good odds, question is, who’s trillions, which engineer, the GDPof the world is 60 trillion, how much of that are people willing to pay in advance. That really is my point, in advance. You may think forward thinking is best, and I agree, but the destruction scenario must be realised and inevitable before action will be taken so don’t hold your breath. Needless to say insurace companies wont be in business when there is no tomorrow!

  38. 88
    Matt says:

    #85, good call on the amount of water vapour, still i think we’ll find that the amont of precipitation will increase on the whole so I suspect that is the reason for the fixation with carbon dioxide. The temperature gradient will increase as surface temperatures increase so rain and clouds will still form when the vapour rises to the appropriate dew point temperature ‘wherever’ that is. So there will be vapour feedback at low altitude, but there will be negative feedback to and probably weird weather. We’ll find out one way or the other. However I diagree with your tub analogy in that isolated events do affect the whole, reflection by cloud effects the amount of light getting in. Every event isolated or not affects averages, that is what averages are all about. Interestingly has anyone researched the effect of an increasing temp gradient in the atmosphere, will there be an increase in high level radiant reflective clouds and a cooling feedback, ice age anyone? Nah just kidding, an ice age after a sudden temperature increase, whoever heard of such a thing, anyway if it cooled we would simply get the reverse effect with less high cloud. Go figure.

  39. 89
    Matt says:

    Sorry about getting off topic again

  40. 90
    Matt says:

    I note the greenpeace website blame receding glaciers in New Zealand on global warming, first i heard, Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers have been receding since 1750, global warming gases are the whipping boy of modern problems.

  41. 91

    Re #89, Matt, Do you know the measurements of the rate of the receding glaciers throughout the period from 1750 that you mention? You seem very confident of your own opinions. When do you intend to publish the details of your analysis?

  42. 92

    Re “I note the greenpeace website blame receding glaciers in New Zealand on global warming, first i heard, Franz Joseph and Fox glaciers have been receding since 1750, global warming gases are the whipping boy of modern problems.”

    1750 was roughly when the industrial revolution started. Greenhouse gases are not a “whipping boy,” they are simply the major cause of the present global warming. And the 3% figure for CO2 is completely bogus; CO2 probably causes 26% of Earth’s present greenhouse effect.

  43. 93
    Jim Cross says:

    For the record, Singer and Avery in their article, The Physical Evidence of Earth’s Unstoppable 1,500-Year Climate Cycle, state the following:

    “Now that the Little Ice Age has given way to the Modern Warming, a few hardy Britons have again begun serious efforts to grow good wine grapes in England – but thus far with spotty success.”

    Now I suppose one might quarrel over the degree of success wine grower’s in England are having.

  44. 94
    Nigel Williams says:

    Regarding the Fox and Franz Joseph glaciers; the catchments for these lie across the westerly circulation around the Antartic, so (as I understand it) GW is likely to increase the energy in that circulation leading to increased precipitation on that catchment, and a propensity to drought to the east of the Southern Alps. Over recent years they have been advancing a bit, but I think that there is some doubt as to whether this is due to increased lubrication of the base (they’re quite steep) or increased snow load. So Fox and Franz are not particularly good indicators of anything. Very handy ‘indicators’ for denialists and Canutists, ‘though!

  45. 95
    Glen Fergus says:

    #94 Yes. But NZ alpine glaciers in general show some of the fastest recent retreat on the planet. The largest, the Tasman Glacier, is a much slower moraine-covered valley glacier draining the eastern side of the alps, directly opposite Fox and FJ (which are on the western side). The recent retreat of the Tasman is startling.

  46. 96
    Glenda Baker says:

    This is a very interesting site and I am enjoying reading all the posts, but just for the record, grapes can and do grow in Newfoundland. I have 1800 vines in the ground, which includes vinifera and plant more every year. I have recentley heard from people here who have been growing grapes outside for as long as 30 years. I don’t attribute the fact we can grow grapes so much to climate change, but rather to the fact that some people, like myself, are no longer taking the advice of the “experts” when they tell us what we can and can’t grow. I have also planted bamboo and palm trees. A link to our website is included.

    CBC Radio Canada, The Current, did a short segment on climate change and wine in eastern Canada which may be of interest to some. Just scroll down to Part 2 Climate Change – Wine

  47. 97
    Steve Bloom says:

    Re #96: Grapes and bamboo aren’t so surprising, but palm trees? Do you have a substantial Gulf Stream effect there?

  48. 98
    Nigel Williams says:

    #95. Very true – other side of the same coin, as all affected by the same changes in weather systems, eh.

  49. 99
    JohnLopresti says:

    The Economist has a piquant discussion of Henry VIII and the modernization of the British wine industry.
    re: @74ERabett: I would enjoy a review of the new applications of the heat summation method, and will check with some people I know in academia. Several interesting researchers are highlighted in this halfpage interview with Gallet-Meredith protege Boursiquot. There are grape plant materials museums of sorts both in France and other countries, including the US; they are useful for the certification of disease free graftable rootstock, as well as for multiple other purposes outside the explicit range of the current discussion on climate; however, these troves of plant materials could serve as one venue to support research into paleoviticulture to the extent useful.

  50. 100
    Brooks Hurd says:


    I followed your link to the Chapel Down website. I have no doubt that they can produce good wine in the UK. I am also certain that the pick clones of the vareitals that they have chosen which are suited to the local climate. This is what all winemakers do these days.

    According to one local winemaker, there are more than 4,000 varieties of wine grapes grown around the world. Some of these are suited to cooler growing seasons such as we have here in the Edna Valley. Other varietals (such as cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel)require more and longer heat to ripen. Some varietals (such as viognier and syrah) grow well in both warmer and cooler climates. In each case, it is the clone selection which is the key to matching a grape to the local climate.

    1,000 years ago winemakers did not have access to 4,000 varietals and multiple clones from which they could carefully pick the right mixture for their vineyard. They did not have the technology to maximize grape output per acre. Wine making today is a blend of art and science, but it is the science of winemaking which has made it possible to grow wine grapes in places which would not have been possible using the techniques available to UK winemakers in 900 AD.

    The fact that the UK can once again grow wine grapes does not serve as a temperature proxy to show that it is now as warm or warmer than it was in the warm period of 1,000 years ago. By the way, the grapes grown by Chapel Down are all suited to cooler climates such as we have here in the Edna Valley.