Increasing summer temperatures could result in parts of southern England becoming too hot for wine-making by 2080, predicts a new book.
According to Emeritus Professor Richard Selley from Imperial College London, the book's author, if average summer temperatures in the UK continue to rise as predicted, the Thames Valley, parts of Hampshire and the Severn valley, which currently contain many vineyards, will be too hot to support wine production within the next 75 years.
"Instead, this land could be suitable for growing raisins, currents and sultanas, currently only cultivated in hot climates such as North Africa and the Middle East," said Professor Selley.
In addition, Professor determined that if the climate changes in line with predictions by the Met Office's Hadley Centre, by 2080, vast areas of the UK including Yorkshire and Lancashire will be able to grow vines for wines like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, which are currently only cultivated in warmer climates like the south of France and Chile.
Combining temperature predictions from the IPCC and the Met Office's Hadley Centre with his own research on UK vineyards throughout history, Professor Selley has predicted that the cool and intermediate grape varieties will be confined to the far north of England, Scotland and Wales by 2080, with 'warm' and 'hot' varieties seen throughout the midlands and south of England.
Explaining the significance of his new study, Professor Selley said, "My previous research has shown how the northernmost limit of UK wine-production has advanced and retreated up and down the country in direct relation to climatic changes since Roman times."
"Now, with models suggesting the average annual summer temperature in the south of England could increase by up to five degrees centigrade by 2080, I have been able to map how British viticulture could change beyond recognition in the coming years," he said.
Grapes that currently thrive in the south east of England could become limited to the cooler slopes of Snowdonia and the Peak District, according to Selley.
According to Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, Director of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College London, "This research shows how the environment in the UK could be affected by climate change in a relatively short period of time."
"Increases in temperature over the course of this century could have a dramatic effect on what can be grown here, including vines," he added.