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Cocoa plant productivity in West Africa under climate change: a modelling and experimental study

Black, Emily, Pinnington, Ewan, Wainwright, Caroline ORCID:, Lahive, Fiona, Quaife, Tristan, Allan, Richard P., Cook, Peter, Daymond, Andrew, Hadley, Paul, McGuire, Patrick, Verhoef, Anne and Vidale, Pier Luigi 2021. Cocoa plant productivity in West Africa under climate change: a modelling and experimental study. Environmental Research Letters 16 (1) , 014009. 10.1088/1748-9326/abc3f3

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The potential effect of climate change on regional suitability for cocoa cultivation is a serious economic concern for West Africa—especially for Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, whose cocoa cultivation accounts for respectively ∼19% and ∼45% of world production. Here, we present a modelling and observational study of cocoa net primary productivity (NPP) in present day and future West African climates. Our analysis uses a data assimilation technique to parameterise a process-based land-surface model. The parameterisation is based on laboratory observations of cocoa, grown under both ambient and elevated CO2. Present day and end of 21st century cocoa cultivation scenarios are produced by driving the parameterised land-surface model with output from a high-resolution climate model. This represents a significant advance on previous work, because unlike the CMIP5 models, the high-resolution model used in this study accurately captures the observed precipitation seasonality in the cocoa-growing regions of West Africa—a key sensitivity for perennials like cocoa. We find that temperature is projected to increase significantly and precipitation is projected to increase slightly, although not in all parts of the region of interest. We find, furthermore, that the physiological effect of higher atmospheric CO2 concentration ameliorates the impacts of high temperature and variation in precipitation thereby reducing some of the negative impacts of climate change and maintaining NPP in West Africa, for the whole 21st Century, even under a high emissions scenario. Although NPP is an indicator of general vegetation condition, it is not equivalent to yield or bean quality. The study presented here is, nevertheless, a strong basis for further field and modelling studies of cultivation under elevated CO2 conditions.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: IOP Publishing
ISSN: 1748-9326
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 January 2023
Date of Acceptance: 22 October 2020
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 07:44

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