Climate change alters impacts of extreme climate events on a tropical perennial tree crop

Thomas J. Creedy (Lead / Corresponding author), Rebecca A. Asare, Alexandra C. Morel, Mark Hirons, John Mason, Yadvinder Malhi, Constance L. McDermott, Emmanuel Opoku, Ken Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Anthropogenic climate change causes more frequent and intense fluctuations in the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Understanding the effects of ENSO on agricultural systems is crucial for predicting and ameliorating impacts on lives and livelihoods, particularly in perennial tree crops, which may show both instantaneous and delayed responses. Using cocoa production in Ghana as a model system, we analyse the impact of ENSO on annual production and climate over the last 70 years. We report that in recent decades, El Niño years experience reductions in cocoa production followed by several years of increased production, and that this pattern has significantly shifted compared with prior to the 1980s. ENSO phase appears to affect the climate in Ghana, and over the same time period, we see corresponding significant shifts in the climatic conditions resulting from ENSO extremes, with increasing temperature and water stress. We attribute these changes to anthropogenic climate change, and our results illustrate the big data analyses necessary to improve understanding of perennial crop responses to climate change in general, and climate extremes in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Article number19653
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2022


  • Climate Change
  • Trees
  • El Nino-Southern Oscillation
  • Crops, Agricultural
  • Temperature


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