Sardinia has a rich farming tradition and a passion for making many foods and drinks, such as cheeses, wines, and olive oil. The soil along this island has always been fruitful and nutrient-dense, making it ideal for agriculture and growing your own crops.
If you visit Sardinia, you’ll most likely be blown away by the amount of fresh food produced within the farm boundaries. This is one of the first things we noticed!
The amount of fresh produce allows them to make amazing dishes, which is why Sardinia is highly renowned for its food.
But with the global warming crisis everchanging, how is this affecting agriculture in Sardinia? Let’s find out together.
Sardinia is a Mediterranean island and therefore boasts a Mediterranean climate. The summers are around six months long (which is a real selling point for tourists!) with average temperatures of 83.3 degrees Fahrenheit (28.5 degrees C).
However, Sardinia has been feeling the effects of climate change for decades now. In recent years, there has been an increased number of floods, coastal erosion, and higher levels of desertification.
This poses a number of threats to the locals of the island, including fears of security, migration, and agriculture.
The Effects Of Climate Change On Sardinia
Let’s take a look at some of the effects climate change is currently having on Sardinia, including yearly temperature and precipitation change.
Yearly Temperature Changes
Since 1980, Sardinia has been getting progressively warmer throughout the years to 2021. In 1980, the mean temperature for the year was 13.2 degrees C (55.8 F). By 2021, the mean yearly temperature had risen to 15.1 degrees C (59.2 F).
This might not seem like much of a change, but this is displayed throughout the year. This means that summers are getting warmer and winters are getting colder. And yet, the warmest temperatures are still exceeding the cooler ones.
The upward trend here clearly shows that Sardinia is being hit with the effects of climate change.
Yearly Precipitation Changes
The yearly precipitation changes haven’t been as staggering as the temperature changes, but this doesn’t mean that they weren’t catastrophic to Sardinia.
The mean precipitation for 1979 was 733 mm, while the mean precipitation for 2021 was 714 mm.
However, we can see that there have been some cases of extreme weather in Sardinia from the overall precipitation over the years. For example, 2017 was a particularly dry month with only 355 mm of precipitation.
The year after that, in 2018, saw incredible precipitation with a mean of 1052 mm.
These inconsistencies are bound to have a negative impact on agriculture in Sardinia.
What Does This All Mean?
Sardinia’s agriculture population is rife, and many people depend on it to make their food, living, and more. The soil has always been excellent on the island, and the warm and long summers mean that crops can be grown for longer periods of time.
However, climate change is threatening this with worrying consequences.
The temperature is rising and has been for years. This means that Sardinians are having to adjust to the rising temperatures and quickly learn what this means for their crops. While most crops enjoy lots of sunlight, unrelenting temperatures can quickly kill plants if not treated properly.
This means that more water is needed for keeping the plants cool and happy. But what happens when there is a drought and water is scarce?
Plants that stay out in the sun for too long without enough water can wilt, die, or go bad. These cannot be eaten or sold and are therefore wasted. This costs the farmers money and takes away from their livelihood.
Luckily, Sardinia has a way of preventing drought from ruining the island, but more on this later. Still, temperature changes that are not prepared for can damage plants and take away from Sardinian harvest.
Rainfall is needed to replenish the soil, keep plants happy, and cool everything down. There hasn’t been a drastic change in the precipitation levels in Sardinia, although they are seeing great fluctuations in rainfall each year.
Some years are offering almost no rainfall, while others are exhibiting massive amounts of precipitation.
Again, this uncertainty can worry farmers. Incredible amounts of rainfall can drown plants, offering root rot and other fungal diseases that cannot be cured. This kills plants and takes away from the farmer’s livelihood.
On the contrary, if farmers are not prepared for drought and don’t have enough water, this can also affect the plants negatively.
Floods are also a massive problem in Sardinia, and these often become due to heavy precipitation. The most notable floods on the island were in 2013, 2020, and 2021.
Citizens, unfortunately, lost their lives, homes, and farms in these floods, and Italy was forced to declare a state of emergency in 2013. These obviously had detrimental effects on the agriculture of Sardinia.
Desertification is another issue in Sardinia due to excessive grazing, strong sheet water erosion, and high temperatures. This is encroaching on the land and taking vital resources from farms and citizens (see how much land in Sardinia is used for farming here).
Not to mention that with the lack of food sources, animals are at higher risk of dying of starvation and heat exhaustion.
If something doesn’t change soon, more areas of Sardinia could be susceptible to desertification, which would take more land away from agriculture efforts.
How Is Sardinia Tackling Its Droughts?
Italy has been hit with plenty of droughts due to climate change in the past few decades, and they have often been seen without water. Lack of water is detrimental to both citizens and tourists, as well as their lands.
However, Sardinia has a solution to tackle droughts and ensure that everyone has access to water (if you want to know if it’s safe to drink Sardinian tap water here).
Sardinia has a basin attached to its region which is attached to a network of 37 dykes that can capture up to 1.8 billion cubic meters of water. This water is then kept in 54 basins, reservoirs, or lakes.
These water sources are all linked by 200 kilometers of canals. Water moves through these canals when one basin is full, ensuring that all of the artificial basins keep hold of enough water.
This system holds 80% of the population’s water and ensures that no one is without water during droughts.
However, this water is prioritized for humans and therefore there is no guarantee that there will be enough to give out to farmers for their plants. Farmers must catch their own rainfall for contingency plans during droughts.
Thanks for reading our article on how climate change is affecting Sardinian agriculture. Climate change is affecting the entire world, but Sardinia is feeling the effects due to its heavy reliance on agriculture and its food sources.
A mixture of rising temperatures, fluctuating precipitation levels, and land changes are causing the conditions for growing crops to be less than optimum. Citizens are seeing less bountiful crops, an increase in dying plants, and more.
There are contingency plans around the island to prevent the harrowing consequences of drought. But what about the other effects of climate change?