Potential impacts of climate change on agriculture and fisheries production in 72 tropical coastal communities

JE Cinner, IR Caldwell, L Thiault, J Ben, JL Blanchard, M Coll, A Diedrich, TD Eddy, JD Everett, C Folberth, D Gascuel, J Guiet, GG Gurney, RF Heneghan, J Jägermeyr, N Jiddawi, R Lahari, J Kuange, W Liu, O Maury, C Müller, C Novaglio, J Palacios-Arbantes, CM Petrik, A Rabearisoa, DP Tittensor, A Wamukota, R Pollnac


Climate change is expected to profoundly impact key food production sectors, with the tropics expected to suffer losses in both fisheries and agriculture. For example, by 2100 tropical areas could lose up to 200 suitable plant growing days per year due to climate change1. Likewise, fishable biomass in the ocean could drop by up to 40% in some tropical areas2,3. While understanding the magnitude of losses that climate change is expected to create in key food production sectors is crucial, it is the social dimensions of vulnerability that determine the degree to which societies are likely to be affected by these changes4,5,6,7,8. Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to and unable to cope with the effects of change. It is comprised of exposure (the degree to which a system is stressed by environmental or social conditions), the social dimensions of sensitivity (the state of susceptibility to harm from perturbations), and adaptive capacity (people’s ability to anticipate, respond to, and recover from the consequences of these changes)4,9. Together, the exposure and sensitivity domains are referred to as “potential impacts”, which are the focus of this article.