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Vulnerability Assessment “In Action”. Turner et al. 2003b – 3 case studies  Descriptive: Tropical Southern Yucatan and Arid Yaqui Valley (NW Mexico)

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Presentation on theme: "Vulnerability Assessment “In Action”. Turner et al. 2003b – 3 case studies  Descriptive: Tropical Southern Yucatan and Arid Yaqui Valley (NW Mexico)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Vulnerability Assessment “In Action”

2 Turner et al. 2003b – 3 case studies  Descriptive: Tropical Southern Yucatan and Arid Yaqui Valley (NW Mexico)  In Progress: Pan-Arctic Assessment Research questions:  What social and biophysical conditions contribute to the major hazards affecting the coupled human-environment system?  In what ways are the coupled systems most vulnerable?  What can be done on local, regional and global scales to address these vulnerabilities? Stressors: climate variability/change and UV radiation, pollution, human & societal trends Consequences to avoid: threats to human health & well-being, indigenous cultures & food security, and human settlements & development Vulnerability analysis for 1980-present and present-2020  Hazards (all 3)  Consequences (for human-environment system of the Inuit – subsistence hunting & fishing, commercial fishing, centrality of kinship & family)  Consequence (large unpredictable fluctuations in reindeer herd size)  Hazards (climate, habitat, markets, new technologies, commercialization).  Vulnerability framework = most useful as a conceptual point of departure for examining vulnerability –Amplification of “transparent” hazards (droughts/hurricanes) by land-use decisions & invasive species –Importance of multiple and interacting hazards –Response options require attention to the dynamics of coupled systems

3 Indicators of Vulnerability  Measurable, non-redundant, practical  In context of vulnerability framework: find indicators for the components of vulnerability (exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity), weight, combine (Polsky et al.)  Other examples – indices of regional vulnerability: –USAID – indices to measure vulnerability to food insecurity in Africa (crop risk, income risk, coping strategies) –PNL Vulnerability Assessment Program – composite index of vulnerability to climate change for 38 countries using 16 variables from 5 sectors of sensitivity (settlement, food security, human health, ecosystem, water) and 3 sectors of coping capacity (economy, human resources, environmental) –South Pacific Applied Geosciences Commission Environmental Vulnerability Index – composite of 54 independent variables: degradation, resilience, exposure  Numerous other measures developed for other sectors, e.g., water resources: –Reliability = probability of failure –Vulnerability = size of failure –Resilience = duration of failure  Limitations: –Subjectivity in variable selection and relative weights –Data availability –Difficulty of testing –Lack of correspondence between conceptual definition of vulnerability and developed metrics (e.g., Cutter et al. 2003)  Alternative: develop generic vulnerability metric to assess the vulnerability of selected variable(s) of concern to specific sets of stressors (Luers et al. 2003)

4 Luers et al A method for quantifying vulnerability, applied to the agricultural system of the Yaqui Valley, Mexico. Global Enviro Change 13:  Vulnerability = susceptibility to damage, = f(system’s position relative to a threshold, exposure, sensitivity) Adaptive capacity = V(existing conditions) – V(modified conditions)

5 Ex: Vulnerability in the Yaqui Valley (Luers et al. 2003)  Framework: – Place = “farm unit” (30m x 30m pixel) – Variable of concern = wheat yield – Stressors = climate variability and change and market fluctuations  Questions: – On which farm units are wheat yields most vulnerable? – To which stressors are wheat yields most vulnerable? – What factors explain differences in vulnerability of wheat yield between farm units?  Data: – 4 years of remotely sensed estimates of yields – 20 years of historical climate data – Wheat yield = f(T night-min, soil type, management) – Threshold for “breaking even” = 4 t/ha

6 What contributes to vulnerability? How would vulnerability change under different conditions? Vulnerability, Yaqui Valley Irrigation District Who is vulnerable? Luers et al. 2003

7  What’s required? –Identify outcome variables of concern –Identify stressors of concern –Model relationship of outcome variables to stressors –Base-line data to calibrate model  What is gained? –An ability to examine vulnerability implications of future scenarios –Ability to analyze independently: (1) state with respect to threshold, (2) sensitivity, (3) exposure, (4) adaptive capacity  What’s missing? –Resilience –Role of timescales of change –Predictive model for management changes

8 Other Methods  Miles et al. 2000: Sensitivity, adaptability, vulnerability of Columbia River water resources to climate variability and change –Stressors = climate variability and change (population growth, changing environmental values/operational priorities) –Outcomes of concern = Columbia River water resources operating objectives (reliability)  Parallel comparative assessments to elucidate role of human systems in determining vulnerability –Liverman et al. 1997: water resources in US-Mexico border region Miles et al. 2000: Climate variability Sensitivity of streamflow  Observed response  Coefficient of variability (relatively low) Sensitivity of water resources   Reliability = f(flow)  Hydropower/flood control vs. fish Adaptability of water resources  Technological adaptability: Could you manage differently? No.  Institutional adaptability: Could you manage differently? No. Vulnerability of water resources  = f(sensitivity, adaptability)  Low with respect to floods, high with respect to droughts Climate change (  exposure, threshold)

9 Thoughts on Vulnerability Assessment  Objectives –Cross-site comparability (e.g., HERO, AVS) –Cross-stressor comparability (cv/cc/anthro) –Cross-policy comparability –Transferability, e.g., “producing generalizable insights into the processes that amplify and dampen vulnerability”  Concerns –How to handle timescale of stress/response? –Must incorporate all of the crucial metrics (e.g., resilience)  Messages –Vulnerability framework = useful as organizing tool, but no convergence yet on methods –Makes sense to break out components of vulnerability for purposes of outreach/discussion –Many options for outreach with vulnerability assessment measures (e.g., NOAA’s coastal risk/vulnerability assessment tool:

10 References  Liverman, D.M., et al. (1997). Climate Variability and Social Vulnerability in the U.S.- Mexico Border Region: An Integrated Assessment of the Water Resources of the San Pedro River and Santa Cruz River Basins. United States Geological Survey (USGS). The Impact of Climate Change and Land Use in the Southwestern United States.  Luers, A. L., et al. (2003). A method for quantifying vulnerability, applied to the agricultural system of the Yaqui Valley, Mexico. Global Environmental Change 13(4 SU):  Miles, E. L., A. K. Snover, A. F. Hamlet, B. Callahan, D. Fluharty, (2000). Pacific Northwest regional assessment: The impacts of climate variability and climate change on the water resources of the Columbia River Basin. Journal of the American Water Resources Association 36(2):  Polsky, C., et al. (2003). Assessing Vulnerabilities to the Effects of Global Change: An Eight-Step Approach. Cambridge, Massachusetts, Environment and Natural Resources Program, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University.  Turner, B. L., et al. (2003a). Science and Technology for Sustainable Development Special Feature: A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science. PNAS 100(14):  Turner, B. L., et al. (2003b). Science and Technology for Sustainable Development Special Feature: Illustrating the coupled human-environment system for vulnerability analysis: Three case studies. PNAS 100(14):


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