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Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

A new study finds a strong chance that climate change helped trigger the recent catastrophe that hit France's wine industry.

Driving the news: An extraordinary cold snap that gripped France in early April, just after a record-warm early spring, devastated grapes and other fruit crops.

  • New analysis by the research consortium World Weather Attribution shows that climate change made that disaster — a textbook example of a "false spring" event — up to 60% more likely.

Why it matters: As the world warms, growing seasons are shifting their timing, and frosts are changing their frequency and severity, too. The interaction between the two is making prized crops more vulnerable to large temperature swings.

How it works: Researchers focused on central France, in a region known for its Champagne.

  • They ran computer model simulations of the weather patterns that led to that event.
  • Some simulations included the current amount of human-caused greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, while others omitted these concentrations.
  • The models showed that climate change made April's cold snap less likely as the lowest temperatures have risen and frost episodes are less frequent now.

Yes, but: There's another dynamic at play, which is the timing of the start of growing seasons, and when vines reach a critical growth stage. Once researchers weighed this alongside the temperature shifts, they saw a clear climate connection.

  • Warming winters mean growing seasons start earlier, which leads to more mature vines being exposed to frigid temperatures if an Arctic outbreak occurs in April.
  • When vines are in the bud burst stage, as they were in early April, they're extremely vulnerable to frost, and by moving budburst earlier in the spring, climate change's influence made this damaging event about 60% more likely.

Go deeper: Greenhouse gases from food systems vastly underestimated

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Sep 8, 2021 - Economy & Business

A new climate venture capital fund with big-name backers

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

This morning brought the launch of a climate tech VC fund that's notable for its prominent backers and connective tissue to communities on the front lines of global warming.

Driving the news: Earthshot Ventures is a new early-stage investor in hardware and software companies that announced its presence today and the close of its first fund at $60 million.

2 hours ago - World

U.S. will give Russians written response to NATO demands, Blinken says

Blinken and Lavrov shake hands in Geneva. Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken confirmed after a meeting with his Russian counterpart on Friday that the U.S. will provide written answers to Russia's security demands next week.

Why it matters: Russia claims to be waiting for "concrete answers" to its demands that NATO rule out further expansion and roll back its presence in eastern Europe before deciding its next steps on Ukraine. But the U.S. and NATO have called those proposals "non-starters," and Friday's meeting offered no breakthroughs, so it's unclear how written answers might change the equation.

More surprises await scientists at Antarctica's "Doomsday Glacier"

Cliffs along the edge of the Thwaites Ice Shelf in West Antarctica. Photo: James Yungel/NASA

Researchers like David Holland, an atmospheric scientist at New York University, are in a race to understand the fate of a massive glacier in West Antarctica that has earned a disquieting nickname: "The Doomsday Glacier."

Why it matters: Studies show the Thwaites Glacier (its official name) could already be on an irreversible course to melt during the next several decades to centuries, freeing up enough inland ice to raise global sea levels by at least several feet.