Case study and analogue methodologies in climate change vulnerability research

2010 June 9
James D. Ford, E. C. H. Keskitalo, Tanya Smith, Tristan Pearce, Lea Berrang-Ford, Frank Duerden, Barry Smit (2010). WIRE’s Climate Change 1(3). Download PDF.
Assessing vulnerability is an important component of human dimensions of climate change (HDCC) research. Vulnerability assessments identify and characterize who and what are sensitive to climatic risks and why, characterize adaptive capacity and its determinants, and identify opportunities for adaptation. This paper examines the importance of case study and analogue methodologies in vulnerability research, reviews the historical evolution of the two methodologies in the HDCC field, and identifies ways in which they can be used to increase our understanding of vulnerability.Case studies involve in-depth place-based research that focuses on a particular exposure unit (e.g., community, industry, etc.) to characterize vulnerability and its determinants. Temporal analogues use past and present experiences and responses to climatic variability, change and extremes to provide insights for vulnerability to climate change; spatial analogues involve conducting research in one region and identifying parallels to how another region might be affected by climate change. Vulnerability research that uses case studies and analogues can help to develop an understanding of the determinants of vulnerability and how they interact, and identify opportunities to reduce vulnerability and enhance adaptive capacity to current and future climate risks. This information can assist policy makers in developing adaptation plans and to mainstream climate change adaptation into other policy- and decision-making processes.
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