Climate change threatening global coffee supply, CSIRO finds


Monday, 20 March, 2023

Climate change threatening global coffee supply, CSIRO finds

Research from CSIRO and the University of Southern Queensland has found that global coffee production is facing major threats due to increasing and concurrent hazards fuelled by climate change.

The researchers found that climate hazards across the top 12 coffee-producing regions globally, such as extremes in temperature and rainfall, had increased in every region between 1980 and 2020, and are occurring in multiple locations at the same time.

This research, published in PLOS Climate, provides a look into the changing nature of hazards to coffee production on a global scale.

Doug Richardson, a scientist who led the research while at CSIRO, said coffee is a sensitive crop vulnerable to climate change, which can fail if the annual average temperature and rainfall is not within an optimal range.

“The frequency of climate events has been increasing over the last 40 years and we see clear evidence of global warming playing a role, as the predominant types of climate hazards have shifted from cold and wet to warm and dry. Since 1980, global coffee production has become increasingly at risk of synchronised crop failures, which can be driven by climate hazards that affect multiple coffee-producing areas simultaneously,” he said.

James Risbey, CSIRO scientist, said recurring climate patterns are important predictors of hazards in coffee-growing regions. For example, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can help predict hazards in regions such as tropical South America, Indonesia and Vietnam. In some good news for Southern Brazil, the largest producer of Arabica coffee, ENSO appears to have less of an impact.

“Southern Brazil could therefore help to dampen coffee production shocks felt elsewhere during significant ENSO events like prolonged cool weather (La Niña) or warm weather (El Niño),” Risbey said.

Previous international research found that land suitable for growing coffee globally could be reduced by up to 50% by 2050.

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