Sunday, April 12, 2009

Climate change impacts coconut - Coconut Rearch Center

There is a broad consensus that climate change is occurring, and that it is linked to a build up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere enhancing the natural greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is, by far, the largest contributor to greenhouse effect. In addition to increased CO2, with climate changes, the plants have to adapt their ways to a new environment – in most cases warmer and possibly with the periods of extreme rainfall and drought.

As plantation researchers, we are mostly concerned about the changes in coconut yields by increased temperatures, precipitation differences and also from carbon fertilisation for plants. Whilst high temperature and long dry periods adversely affects the coconut yield, elevated CO2 positively affects plant productivity as the latter is a substrate for photosynthesis. The climate scientists predict future climates using different scenarios. However, projecting climate impacts is one thing, but plantation crops add multiple more dimensions of complexity – what are the sensitive stages of fruit development to stress condition, intensity of heat or drought stress, heat and drought tolerant coconut varieties, irrigation, soil moisture conservation, soil fertility and much more. In addition, the coconuts grown in different agro-climatic zones and different land suitability classes (There are five groups from very suitable to marginally suitable soils.) will respond differently to the climate change; some areas may be more vulnerable than the others. Therefore, one should understand that climatic change impacts on coconut sector are not a phenomenon controlled by a single factor.

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