Analyzing Raster to Make Virginia Vineyards Vaster

Wine Climate Regions of Virginia based on Aqua's Moderateresolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) land surface temperature measurements (2002-2012). Each region indicates a total number of degrees above base temperature that a space experiences during the growing season, and each region is ideal for certain grape varieties.

Team Location: Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia; and Patrick Henry Building, Richmond, Virginia

Authors:
Taylor Hotchkiss (University of Richmond)
Sarah Trimble (Texas A&M University)
Meredith Johnson (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)
Sonia Szczesna (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)

Mentors/Advisers:
Kenton Ross, Ph.D. (NASA, DEVELOP National Science Advisor)

Past/Other Contributors:
Quentin Geddes (DEVELOP Goddard Center Lead)

Abstract:

The agriculture industry is the most economically significant industry in Virginia. The tobacco industry, once the basis for Virginia’s economy, has seen a major decline in recent years. This decrease has spurred an interest in growing alternative crops in the state, particularly grapevines for wine production. In 2010, the wine industry contributed $747 million to the Commonwealth’s economy; a 106 percent increase since 2005. The economic success of Virginia wine has resulted in the state’s desire to expand the viticulture industry. Grapes require very specific physical and biological conditions for cultivation; climate, soil, and topography are particularly important. The Virginia Viticulture Site Suitability Investigative Tool developed at the Virginia Tech Center for Geospatial Information Technology integrates several of these factors to assist with vineyard site selection in order to improve crop yields, quality, and vineyard profitability. The current tool contains statewide information for soil and topographic conditions, as well as one map of temperature data that was interpolated from weather station records.

While precipitation, soil type, and slope are important factors in plant health, temperature is an essential component to grapevine growth. The weather station temperature data employed by the current tool can be enhanced by using Land Surface Temperature (LST) data derived from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS). The MODIS sensor is aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites, however only Aqua LST products were used because the time of observation for Aqua is at night, close to the time of actual low temperature. Daily data from the MODIS Aqua LST product was downloaded and aggregated by decade (10 day periods) and by month for years 2002-2012. Means and medians were calculated on a per pixel basis, and these temperature values were used to create crop suitability maps using ArcGIS. Multiple map products were created to help grape growers make informed decisions. Some of these products are: growing degree days (Winkler Index), biologically effective degree days (Gladstones Index), last and first day of frost, average growing season temperatures, and susceptibility to Pierce’s disease, a bacterium that can kill grapevines. Temperature data from MODIS is continuous and can account for elevation, providing higher resolution temperature data than data spatially interpolated between various weather stations.

These maps also were produced for the year 2050, according to changes in temperatures predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Due to the long lifespan of vineyards (typically at least 30 years), future climate conditions are an important factor in establishing new vineyards and identifying the grape varieties best suited for a region. Scientists predict a warming global climate, which may shift areas suitable for wine production away from the equator and toward the poles, changing the landscape of global vineyard distribution significantly by the year 2050. Shifting climate regimes may result in changes in distribution of both suitability for a particular grape species, and the risks of bacteria, fungi, and other diseases that threaten grape species.

Due to the long lifespan of vineyards, future climate conditions are an important factor in establishing new vineyards and identifying the grape varieties best suited for an area. Scientists predict a warming climate scenario and areas
suitable for wine production may shift away from the equator and towards the poles, changing the landscape of global vineyard distribution significantly by the year 2050. Shifting climate regimes may result in changes in distribution of both suitability for a particular grape species and the risks of diseases that threaten grape species. Therefore, maps of mean growing season temperature and disease susceptibility were also created for the year 2050. The products created by this project provide useful information for the management of existing vineyards, as well as those that may be established as the market for Virginia wines expands. Enhanced temperature data derived from MODIS enables wine producers throughout the state to better prepare for climate impacts by modifying grape varieties and location choice to ultimately produce larger quantities and higher quality wine.

Return to the Summer 2013 VPS page.