A systems network approach for climate change vulnerability assessment

2018 September 19

Debortoli, N.S., Sayles, J.S., Clark, D.G., Ford, J.D. (2018). A systems network approach for climate change vulnerability assessment. Environmental Research Letterspublished online.

Vulnerability to climate change is a product of biophysical and social dynamics. Assessments of community or regional vulnerability, however, often focus on quantitative infrastructure and environmental assessments, or qualitative assessments of a community’s social dynamics and livelihood activities. A dearth of integrated quantitative assessments is a major barrier for decision-makers who require quantitative outputs and indicators, which can measure where vulnerability is most severe and can be linked to climate projections. Our framework and analysis helps address such gaps by identifying variables to build climate change vulnerability indices, which we pilot here focusing on Inuit communities in the Canadian Arctic. We start with a systematic literature review of community-based vulnerability studies and assess relationships among 58 social and biophysical variables. We then use multiplex network analysis to determine how social and environmental variables interact among and within the key component of vulnerability: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity. We identify several structurally important variables that interact within and across the three dimensions of vulnerability. This method is transferable as an integrative means of understanding not only the direct causes of vulnerability but also relations that are less tangible. The approach of multiplex network analysis can be a building block to ongoing development of vulnerability indices within the human dimensions of climate change field.

New Arctic-focused PhD opening @ccadapt

2018 September 5

Want to join the @ccadapt team? Interested in working on an interdisciplinary climate change project in the Arctic. I have a fully funded PhD project for 2019 start date on ‘Participatory climate modeling, ethnoclimatology, and human health in the Arctic.’

For more information, go to: http://www.see.leeds.ac.uk/admissions-and-study/research-degrees/sri/projects-with-guaranteed-funding/participatory-climate-modeling-ethnoclimatology-and-human-health-in-the-arctic/.

James to give alumni lecture at Oxford’s ECI

2018 September 5

This weekend (Sept 8th) James will give the alumni lecture at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. Focusing on what we can learn from the rapidly changing Arctic on the human dimensions of climate change, it will build upon over 16 years of research by @ccadapt in the circumpolar north.

Special issue at Environmental Research Letters

2018 August 29

Along with a number of colleagues, I am organizing a special issue at ERL on systematic reviews for informing climate solutions. The issue builds upon work that @ccadapt team members have been working on since 2010 on knowledge synthesis, taking it to next level to inform the IPCC AR6 process. For more information go to:


Interested in doing postdoctoral research with @ccadapt?

2018 August 8

The British Academy just released its 2018 call for Postdoctoral Fellowships. I am open to supporting potential applicants apply to this scheme with the aim of working on key themes in my research program:


–        The human dimensions of Arctic climate change OR

–        Indigenous peoples and climate change

–        Climate change policy tracking


If interested, please send your CV and let me know your research interests: j.ford@leeds.ac.uk