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Keywords:

  • climate;
  • grassland;
  • Europe;
  • carbon dioxide;
  • methane;
  • nitrous oxide

Summary

Climate change associated with greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions may have important implications for Europe's grasslands. Projected scenarios indicate that increased temperatures and CO2 concentrations have the potential to increase herbage growth and to favour legumes more than grasses, but changes in seasonal precipitation would reduce these benefits particularly in areas with low summer rainfall. Further implications for grasslands may arise from increased frequency of droughts, storms and other extreme events. Potential farm-scale adaptive responses to climate change are identified. Grassland agriculture also contributes to GHG emissions, particularly methane and nitrous oxide, and management of grassland affects net carbon balances and carbon sequestration. Management options are identified for mitigating grassland's contribution to GHG emissions which need to be developed in a holistic way that also considers other pressures.