Terraclim 2022: Climate database and TerraClim Tool development

by | Feb 25, 2022 | South Africa Wine Scan

Researcher: Dr Tara Southey (tara@sun.ac.za), Department of Geography & Environmental Studies, Stellenbosch University

Aim and industry relevance:

This project continues to build on the Terraclim project started in 2019. The initial TerraClim project has provided an excellent foundation for research. The online Terraclim platform (www.terraclim.co.za) is a new, integrated technology tailored to the agriculture sector. It is ideal to aid long and short term decision making at farm and field level in the context of climate change in the complex terrain of the Western Cape. Terraclim provides high resolution terrain and temperature information, based on a robust climate and terrain database.

The project will continue to maintain, extend and improve the climate database and wireless logger networks. However, the initial TerraClim project also generated a wealth of data that has not yet been exploited. The aim of this new project is to mine the geospatial database (geodatabase) for information related to climate variability and cultivar suitability. The ultimate question that this research aims to answer is what actions are required to ensure a sustainable future for the wine industry. However, in order to answer this question, we first need to improve our understanding of climatic variations of the recent past so that we can identify trends and make predictions of how variations may play out in the near- and long-term future. With this background we can potentially improve our understanding of how climate changes may affect the wine industry, especially within the context of what has happened in the wine industry over the past few years.

The continuation of the Terraclim project builds on the previous aim to improve our understanding of how the climate in the Western Cape is changing and how the grapevine/plant is responding to these changes. This knowledge is critical for the sustainable future of wine production in South Africa.

This project will ultimately:
1) provide up-to-date climate situational reports for within-season decision making;
2) delineate areas most at risk to climate variability to inform new plantings;
3) map terroir to better understand wine character;
4) identify areas most suitable for the planting of specific cultivars;
5) maintain and expand the centralized climate database.

Image credit: Shutterstock 

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