Articles | Volume 3, issue 1
Research article
27 Feb 2012
Research article |  | 27 Feb 2012

Downscaling climate change scenarios for apple pest and disease modeling in Switzerland

M. Hirschi, S. Stoeckli, M. Dubrovsky, C. Spirig, P. Calanca, M. W. Rotach, A. M. Fischer, B. Duffy, and J. Samietz

Abstract. As a consequence of current and projected climate change in temperate regions of Europe, agricultural pests and diseases are expected to occur more frequently and possibly to extend to previously non-affected regions. Given their economic and ecological relevance, detailed forecasting tools for various pests and diseases have been developed, which model their phenology, depending on actual weather conditions, and suggest management decisions on that basis. Assessing the future risk of pest-related damages requires future weather data at high temporal and spatial resolution. Here, we use a combined stochastic weather generator and re-sampling procedure for producing site-specific hourly weather series representing present and future (1980–2009 and 2045–2074 time periods) climate conditions in Switzerland. The climate change scenarios originate from the ENSEMBLES multi-model projections and provide probabilistic information on future regional changes in temperature and precipitation. Hourly weather series are produced by first generating daily weather data for these climate scenarios and then using a nearest neighbor re-sampling approach for creating realistic diurnal cycles. These hourly weather series are then used for modeling the impact of climate change on important life phases of the codling moth and on the number of predicted infection days of fire blight. Codling moth (Cydia pomonella) and fire blight (Erwinia amylovora) are two major pest and disease threats to apple, one of the most important commercial and rural crops across Europe. Results for the codling moth indicate a shift in the occurrence and duration of life phases relevant for pest control. In southern Switzerland, a 3rd generation per season occurs only very rarely under today's climate conditions but is projected to become normal in the 2045–2074 time period. While the potential risk for a 3rd generation is also significantly increasing in northern Switzerland (for most stations from roughly 1% on average today to over 60% in the future for the median climate change signal of the multi-model projections), the actual risk will critically depend on the pace of the adaptation of the codling moth with respect to the critical photoperiod. To control this additional generation, an intensification and prolongation of control measures (e.g. insecticides) will be required, implying an increasing risk of pesticide resistances. For fire blight, the projected changes in infection days are less certain due to uncertainties in the leaf wetness approximation and the simulation of the blooming period. Two compensating effects are projected, warmer temperatures favoring infections are balanced by a temperature-induced advancement of the blooming period, leading to no significant change in the number of infection days under future climate conditions for most stations.

Final-revised paper