Consequences of Climate Change Increasingly Felt by Croatian Olive Growers

Drought, wildfires and sea level rise threaten olive groves across Croatia.
Nov. 17, 2022
Nedjeljko Jusup

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The increas­ingly-pro­nounced effects of cli­mate change are hav­ing a neg­a­tive impact on Croatian olive grow­ing, accord­ing to researchers at the University of Zagreb.

Lidija Srnec, a mete­o­rol­o­gist and head of the uni­ver­si­ty’s cli­mate mon­i­tor­ing depart­ment, said cli­mate change in Croatia has resulted in heat waves becom­ing more fre­quent and last­ing longer.

We have not yet reached the point of no return, but agree­ments are needed as soon as pos­si­ble.- Julije Domac, cli­mate and energy advi­sor to Croatian pres­i­dent

She added that at least three heat waves this sum­mer affected the country’s long-term drought and exac­er­bated a large num­ber of wild­fires.

According to fire­fight­ing offi­cials in the coun­try, Croatia expe­ri­enced 14,241 fires in the first 10 months of 2022, a 47-per­cent increase com­pared to the same period in 2021.

See Also:Despite Drought, Croatia Enjoys Fruitful Harvest

Additionally, the amount of land burned by wild­fires reached 56,540 hectares, a 135-per­cent increase com­pared to last year.

Olive groves in Istria and Dalmatia, the coun­try’s two most sig­nif­i­cant olive-grow­ing regions, were among the areas burned this year.

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In addi­tion to drought and fires, there is even greater con­cern regard­ing ris­ing sea lev­els in the Adriatic. According to exist­ing mod­els, the Adriatic could rise from 32 to 65 cen­time­ters by the end of the cen­tury.

We have not yet reached the point of no return, but agree­ments are needed as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Julije Domac, a cli­mate and energy adviser to Croatia’s pres­i­dent.

He added that sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenges await global lead­ers at COP27 in Egypt as they seek to mit­i­gate the impacts of cli­mate change and limit the rise in global tem­per­a­tures to 1.5 ºC com­pared to the pre-Industrial aver­age.

If the sea level rises by a half-meter, Croatia will lose more than 100 mil­lion square meters of coast­line. More than a dozen cities and urban areas on Croatia’s coastal islands and the main­land, includ­ing Split, the coun­try’s sec­ond-largest city, would also be at risk.

Along with islands and coastal cities, impor­tant agri­cul­tural areas on the coast would also be at risk, includ­ing the Neretva River Valley and Ravni Kotari plain, which are home to many olive groves.

Officials warned the dam­age to olive oil pro­duc­tion would be immea­sur­able. Moreover, they added the loss of olive trees might fur­ther exac­er­bate the issue, as the trees are known to be sig­nif­i­cant car­bon sinks.

Some stud­ies say that we are the third-most exposed European coun­try [to the impacts of cli­mate change],” Domac said. Therefore, Croatia has to work hard, pri­mar­ily on adap­ta­tion to cli­mate change.”

Mirko Orlić, a geo­physi­cist at the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts, thinks this urgency must be on full dis­play from Croatian and global lead­ers in Egypt.

Two things remain unde­fined,” he said. The first is what each coun­try needs to do to reach the 1.5- to 2‑degree tar­get. The prob­lem is that it was never agreed to check whether the goals are being met. So there are promises, but there is no ver­i­fi­ca­tion mech­a­nism.”


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