Vulnerability, risk and adaptation: A conceptual framework

Author(s): Nick Brooks

Source: Research Working Paper 38. Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment (CSERGE), School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich. | Type: Article | Year: 2003

The purpose of this paper is to present a tentative conceptual framework for studies of vulnerability and adaptation to climate variability and change, generally applicable to a wide range of contexts, systems and hazards. Social vulnerability is distinguished from biophysical vulnerability, which is broadly equivalent to the natural hazards concept of risk. The IPCC definition of vulnerability is discussed within this context, which helps us to reconcile apparently contradictory definitions of vulnerability. A concise typology of physically defined hazards is presented; the relationship between the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of a human system depends critically on the nature of the hazard faced. Adaptation by a system may be inhibited by process originating outside the system; it is therefore important to consider “external” obstacles to adaptation, and links across scales, when assessing adaptive capacity.

Using Scenarios to Explore Climate Change: A Handbook for Practitioners

Author(s): National Park Service

Source: National Park Service Climate Change Response Program. Fort Collins, Colorado. | Type: Manual / Guide | Year: 2013

Updating the Illinois Wildlife Action Plan: Using a vulnerability assessment to inform conservation priorities

Author(s): K. Kahl, K. Hall, J. Walk, S. Hagen, A. Lange and P. Doran.

Source: The Nature Conservancy, Great Lakes Project. Lansing, Michigan. | Type: Example / Case Study | Year: 2011

U.S. Natural Resources and Climate Change: Concepts and Approaches for Management Adaptation

Author(s): Jordan M. West, Susan H. Julius, Peter Kareiva, Carolyn Enquist, Joshua J. Lawler, Brian Petersen, Ayana E. Johnson, M. Rebecca Shaw

Source: Environmental Management. 44(6):1001-1021. | Type: Report | Year: 2009

Public lands and waters in the United States traditionally have been managed using frameworks and objectives that were established under an implicit assumption of stable climatic conditions. However, projected climatic changes render this assumption invalid. Here, we summarize general principles for management adaptations that have emerged from a major literature review. These general principles cover many topics including: (1) how to assess climate impacts to ecosystem processes that are key to management goals; (2) using management practices to support ecosystem resilience; (3) converting barriers that may inhibit management responses into opportunities for successful implementation; and (4) promoting flexible decision making that takes into account challenges of scale and thresholds. To date, the literature on management adaptations to climate change has mostly focused on strategies for bolstering the resilience of ecosystems to persist in their current states. Yet in the longer term, it is anticipated that climate change will push certain ecosystems and species beyond their capacity to recover. When managing to support resilience becomes infeasible, adaptation may require more than simply changing management practices—it may require changing management goals and managing transitions to new ecosystem states. After transitions have occurred, management will again support resilience—this time for a new ecosystem state. Thus, successful management of natural resources in the context of climate change will require recognition on the part of managers and decisions makers of the need to cycle between “managing for resilience” and “managing for change.”

Transformational adaptation when incremental adaptations to climate change are insufficient

Author(s): Robert W. Kates, William R. Travis, and Thomas J. Wilbanks

Source: PNAS. 109(19): 7156–7161. | Type: Article | Year: 2012

All human–environment systems adapt to climate and its natural variation. Adaptation to human-induced change in climate has largely been envisioned as increments of these adaptations intended to avoid disruptions of systems at their current locations. In some places, for some systems, however, vulnerabilities and risks may be so sizeable that they require transformational rather than incremental adaptations. Three classes of transformational adaptations are those that are adopted at a much larger scale, that are truly new to a particular region or resource system, and that transform places and shift locations. We illustrate these with examples drawn from Africa, Europe, and North America.

Toward Resilience – A Guide to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation

Author(s): Marilise Turnbull, Charlotte L. Sterrett, Amy Hilleboe

Source: Practical Action Publishing Ltd, The Schumacher Centre, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire UK. | Type: Manual / Guide | Year: 2013

Toward Resilience: A Guide to Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation is an introductory resource for staff of development and humanitarian organizations working with people whose lives and rights are threatened by disasters and climate change.

The state of climate change adaptation in Canada’s protected areas sector

Author(s): Christopher J. Lemieux, Thomas J. Beechey, Daniel J. Scott, Paul A. Gray

Source: The George Wright Forum. 28(2): 216–236. | Type: Report | Year: 2011

Separating sensitivity from exposure in assessing extinction risk from climate change

Author(s): Maria G. Dickinson, C. David L. Orme, K. Blake Suttle, Georgina M. Mace

Source: Scientific Reports 4, Article number: 6898. | Type: Report | Year: 2014

Predictive frameworks of climate change extinction risk generally focus on the magnitude of climate change a species is expected to experience and the potential for that species to track suitable climate. A species’ risk of extinction from climate change will depend, in part, on the magnitude of climate change the species experiences, its exposure. However, exposure is only one component of risk. A species’ risk of extinction will also depend on its intrinsic ability to tolerate changing climate, its sensitivity. We examine exposure and sensitivity individually for two example taxa, terrestrial amphibians and mammals. We examine how these factors are related among species and across regions and how explicit consideration of each component of risk may affect predictions of climate change impacts. We find that species’ sensitivities to climate change are not congruent with their exposures. Many highly sensitive species face low exposure to climate change and many highly exposed species are relatively insensitive. Separating sensitivity from exposure reveals patterns in the causes and drivers of species’ extinction risk that may not be evident solely from predictions of climate change. Our findings emphasise the importance of explicitly including sensitivity and exposure to climate change in assessments of species’ extinction risk.

Running to stand still: adaptation and the response of plants to rapid climate change

Author(s): Alistair S. Jump, Josep Peñuelas

Type: Article | Year: 2005

Climate is a potent selective force in natural populations, yet the importance of
adaptation in the response of plant species to past climate change has been questioned. As many species are unlikely to migrate fast enough to track the rapidly changing climate of the future, adaptation must play an increasingly important role in their response. In this paper we review recent work that has documented climate-related genetic diversity within populations or on the microgeographical scale. We then describe studies that have looked at the potential evolutionary responses of plant populations to future climate change. We argue that in fragmented landscapes, rapid climate change has the potential to overwhelm the capacity for adaptation in many plant populations and dramatically alter their genetic composition. The consequences are likely to include unpredictable changes in the presence and abundance of species within communities and a reduction in their ability to resist and recover from further environmental perturbations, such as pest and disease outbreaks and extreme climatic events. Overall, a range-wide increase in
extinction risk is likely to result. We call for further research into understanding the
causes and consequences of the maintenance and loss of climate-related genetic diversity within populations.

Resource management in a changing and uncertain climate

Author(s): Joshua J Lawler, Timothy H Tear, Chris Pyke, M Rebecca Shaw, Patrick Gonzalez, Peter Kareiva, Lara Hansen, Lee Hannah, Kirk Klausmeyer, Allison Aldous, Craig Bienz, Sam Pearsall

Source: Front Ecol Environ. 8(1): 35–43. | Type: Report | Year: 2009

Climate change is altering ecological systems throughout the world. Managing these systems in a way that ignores climate change will likely fail to meet management objectives. The uncertainty in projected climatechange impacts is one of the greatest challenges facing managers attempting to address global change. In order to select successful management strategies, managers need to understand the uncertainty inherent in projected climate impacts and how these uncertainties affect the outcomes of management activities. Perhaps the most important tool for managing ecological systems in the face of climate change is active adaptive management, in which systems are closely monitored and management strategies are altered to address expected and ongoing changes. Here, we discuss the uncertainty inherent in different types of data on potential climate impacts and explore climate projections and potential management responses at three sites in North America. The Central Valley of California, the headwaters of the Klamath River in Oregon, and the barrier islands and sounds of North Carolina each face a different set of challenges with respect to climate change. Using these three sites, we provide specific examples of how managers are already beginning to address the threat of climate change in the face of varying levels of uncertainty.