Adapting agriculture to future climate: the date palm

Climate change will make many parts of North Africa unsuitable for growing date palms, according to research using occurrence data accessed via GBIF to generate models based on future conditions of temperature and moisture.

GBIF-mediated data resources used : 163 records used via GBIF
Photo: Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), Spain. Credit: Seweryn Oikowicz.

Photo: Date palm (Phoenix dactylifera), Spain. Credit: Seweryn Oikowicz.

This research by a team from Australia used data accessed through GBIF to model changes in the areas likely to be suitable for cultivating date palms (Phoenix dactylifera), according to various future scenarios of climate change.

After filtering from a total of 583 records for the species, 163 occurrence locations downloaded via GBIF were supplemented with 49 records from literature review to model the potential distribution of the date palm, based on current and projected future conditions of temperature and moisture.

The results suggested that many parts of North Africa currently suited to date palm cultivation will become unsuitable by 2100. By 2070, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and western Iran are projected to become less suitable. On the other hand, some areas such as southeastern Bolivia and northern Venezuela will be more suitable for growing date palms.

The authors suggest such projections can inform strategic planning by identifying new areas in which to cultivate this economically-important crop in future, and areas that will need attention due to reduced suitability compared with current agricultural practices.


Shabani, F., Kumar, L. & Taylor, S., 2012. Climate Change Impacts on the Future Distribution of Date Palms: A Modeling Exercise Using CLIMEX V. Magar, ed. PLoS ONE, 7(10), p.e48021. Available at:

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  • Australia
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  • Agriculture
  • Climate change