Operationalizing longitudinal approaches to climate change vulnerability assessment

2017 May 25

Fawcett, D., Pearce, T., Ford, J.D., Archer, L. (2017) Operationalizing longitudinal approaches to climate change vulnerability assessment. Global Environmental Change, 45, 79-88.


The past decade has seen a proliferation of community-scale climate change vulnerability assessments globally. Much of this work has employed frameworks informed by scholarship in the vulnerability field, which draws upon interviews with community members to identify and characterize climatic risks and adaptive responses. This scholarship has developed a baseline understanding of vulnerability in specific places and industries at particular times. However, given the dynamic nature of vulnerability new methodologies are needed to generate insights on how climate change is experienced and responded to over time. Longitudinal approaches have long been used in sociology and the health sciences to capture the dynamism of human processes, but their penetration into vulnerability research has been limited. In this article, we describe the application of two longitudinal approaches, cohort and trend studies, in climate change vulnerability assessment by analyzing three case studies from the Arctic where the authors applied these approaches. These case studies highlight how longitudinal approaches can be operationalized to capture the dynamism of vulnerability by identifying climate anomalies and trends, and how adaptations develop over time, including insights on themes such as social learning and adaptive pathways.

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