Angus Naylor

Climatic Changes, Water Systems, and Adaptation Challenges in Shawi Communities in the Peruvian Amazon

Torres-Slimming, P.A., Wright, C.J., Lancha, G., Carcamo, C.P., Garcia, P.J., Ford, J.D., IHACC Research Team and Harper, S.L. 2020. Climatic Changes, Water Systems, and Adaptation Challenges in Shawi Communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Sustainability, 12(8), article online.

Climate change impacts on water systems have consequences for Indigenous communities. We documented climatic changes on water systems observed by Indigenous Shawi and resultant impacts on health and livelihoods, and explored adaptation options and challenges in partnership with two Indigenous Shawi communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Qualitative data were collected via PhotoVoice, interviews, focus group discussions, and transect walks, and analyzed using a constant comparative method and thematic analysis. Quantitative data were collected via a household survey and analyzed descriptively. Households observed seasonal weather changes over time (n = 50; 78%), which had already impacted their family and community (n = 43; 86%), such as more intense rainfall resulting in flooding (n = 29; 58%). Interviewees also described deforestation impacts on the nearby river, which were exacerbated by climate-related changes, including increased water temperatures (warmer weather, exacerbated by fewer trees for shading) and increased erosion and turbidity (increased rainfall, exacerbated by riverbank instability due to deforestation). No households reported community-level response plans for extreme weather events, and most did not expect government assistance when such events occurred. This study documents how Indigenous peoples are experiencing climatic impacts on water systems, and highlights how non-climatic drivers, such as deforestation, exacerbate climate change impacts on water systems and community livelihoods in the Peruvian Amazon.

Conceptualizing Climate Vulnerability in Complex Adaptive Systems

Naylor, A., Ford, J., Pearce, T. and Van Alstine, J. 2020. Conceptualizing Climate Vulnerability in Complex Adaptive Systems. One Earth, 2(5), pp. 444-454.

This Perspective develops a novel approach for assessing the vulnerability of complex adaptive systems to climate change. Our characterization focuses on the dynamic nature of vulnerability and its role in developing differential risk across multi-dimensional systems, communities, or societies. We expand on past conceptualizations that have examined vulnerability as processual rather than a static or binary state and note the necessary role of complexity and complex adaptive systems theory as a basis for effective vulnerability assessment. In illustrating our approach, we demonstrate the importance of factors such as modulation (connectedness), feedback mechanisms, redundancy, and the susceptibility of individual components within a system to change. Understanding the complexity of potentially vulnerable systems in this manner can help unravel the causes of vulnerability, facilitate the identification and characterization of potential adaptive deficits within specific dimensions of complex adaptive systems, and direct opportunities for adaptation.

Climate change adaptation in aquaculture

Galappaththi, E., Ichien, S.T., Hyman, A.A., Aubrac, C.J. and Ford, J.D. Climate change adaptation in aquaculture. Reviews in Aquaculture, article online.

This study conducts the first systematic literature review of climate change adaptation in aquaculture. We address three specific questions: (i) What is aquaculture adapting to? (ii) How is aquaculture adapting? and (iii) What research gaps need to be addressed? We identify, characterise and examine case studies published between 1990 and 2018 that lie at the intersection of the domains of climate change, adaptation and aquaculture. The main areas of documented climate change impacts relate to extreme events and the general impacts of climate change on the aquaculture sector. Three categories of adaptation to climate change are identified: coping mechanisms at the local level (e.g. water quality management techniques), multilevel adaptive strategies (e.g. changing culture practices) and management approaches (e.g. adaptation planning, community‐based adaptation). We identify four potential areas for future research: research on inland aquaculture adaptation; studies at the household level; whether different groups of aquaculture farmers (e.g. indigenous people) face and adapt differently to climate change; and the use of GIS and remote sensing as cost‐effective tools for developing adaptation strategies and responses. The study brings essential practical and theoretical insights to the aquaculture industry as well as to climate change adaptation research across the globe.

Contributions of scale: What we stand to gain from Indigenous and local inclusion in climate-health monitoring and surveillance systems.

van Bavel, B., Berrang-Ford, L., Harper, S.L., Ford, J.D., Elsey, H., Lwasa, S. and King, R. Contributions of scale: what we stand to gain from Indigenous and local inclusion in climate-health monitoring and surveillance systems. Environmental Research Letters, article online. 

Understanding how climate change will affect global health is a defining challenge this century. This is predicated, however, on our ability to combine climate and health data to investigate the ways in which variations in climate, weather, and health outcomes interact. There is growing evidence to support the value of place- and community-based monitoring and surveillance efforts, which can contribute to improving both the quality and equity of data collection needed to investigate and understand the impacts of climate change on health. The inclusion of multiple and diverse knowledge systems in climate-health surveillance presents many benefits, as well as challenges. We conducted a systematic review, synthesis, and confidence assessment of the published literature on integrated monitoring and surveillance systems for climate change and public health. We examined the inclusion of diverse knowledge systems in climate-health literature, focusing on: 1) analytical framing of integrated monitoring and surveillance system processes 2) key contributions of Indigenous knowledge and local knowledge systems to integrated monitoring and surveillance systems processes; and 3) patterns of inclusion within these processes. In total, 24 studies met the inclusion criteria and were included for data extraction, appraisal, and analysis. Our findings indicate that the inclusion of diverse knowledge systems contributes to integrated climate-health monitoring and surveillance systems across multiple processes of detection, attribution, and action. These contributions include: the definition of meaningful problems; the collection of more responsive data; the reduction of selection and source biases; the processing and interpretation of more comprehensive datasets; the reduction of scale dependent biases; the development of multi-scale policy; long-term future planning; immediate decision making and prioritization of key issues; as well as creating effective knowledge-information-action pathways. The value of our findings and this review is to demonstrate how neither scientific, Indigenous, nor local knowledge systems alone will be able to contribute the breadth and depth of information necessary to detect, attribute, and inform action along these pathways of climate-health impact. Rather, it is the divergence or discordance between the methodologies and evidences of different knowledge systems that can contribute uniquely to this understanding. We critically discuss the possibility of what we, mainly local communities and experts, stand to lose if these processes of inclusion are not equitable. We explore how to shift the existing patterns of inclusion into balance by ensuring the equity of contributions and justice of inclusion in these integrated monitoring and surveillance system processes. 

“Even if it doesn’t come, you should be prepared”: Natural hazard perception, remoteness, and implications for disaster risk reduction in rural Fiji


Pearce, T., Currenti, R., Doran, B., Sidle, R., Ford, J. and Leon, J. 2020. “Even if it doesn’t come, you should be prepared”: Natural hazard perception, remoteness, and implications for disaster risk reduction in rural Fiji. International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 48, article number 1010591.

  • Preparation is the key to surviving a disaster and minimising harm
  • Local perceptions of risk, worldviews and beliefs influence disaster preparedness
  • Past experience with less-severe events can contribute to complacency
  • Climate-proofing homes should include new and traditional construction techniques

Anne presents first findings on applying machine learning to adaptation literature

The Applied Machine Learning Days are an annual conference where the focus is not just on the latest technical advances in computer science, but also on how this technology can best be used. This year, for the first time there was a track on climate change. Anne presented the first findings of his PhD project at the poster session of this track.

For this project, Anne used a Support Vector Machine to select abstracts that are relevant to climate change adaptation. This resulted in a dataset of nearly 45 thousand abstracts. He then further analysed this data using Topic Modelling (LDA), network clustering of co-citations, and geo-parsers. The result is a snapshot of a rapidly developing and diverse but also somewhat segmented and unequal field of studies.

PhD Opportunity at University of Leeds: Climate change, cultural representation, and climate justice in the Arctic

Key facts

PhD Application deadline Saturday 29 February 2020
Project start: Thursday 1 October 2020
Country eligibility: UK and EU Funding Competition funded
Supervisors: Professor James Ford
Additional supervisors: Dr Vlad Strukov


The Arctic is witnessing the most dramatic climate change globally, warming at least twice the global average, and is projected to witness the most warming anywhere globally this century. The rapidly declining sea ice and threats to iconic species such as polar bear have put the region at the centre of media attention on climate change, underpinning claims for stronger global action to reduce emissions. Attention to the Arctic in popular discourse is welcome, as the region has often been neglected, but also comes with dangers. The Arctic, for example, is often framed as a wilderness devoid of people, overlooking the long history of Indigenous habitation in the region. Furthermore, the promotion of the Arctic as a ‘miners canary’ of climate change—however well-intentioned—neglects the fact that the canaries are real people and more than mere sentinels of impending global disaster. Such discourse matters because it shapes policies, procedures, and programmes; that is, it defines the solution-space. Whether it be calls to ban traditional Indigenous harvesting practices to protect iconic species, abandon communities to rising sea levels, or promoting geoengineering schemes (e.g. seeding Arctic sea ice), the needs and aspirations of local people rarely figure. There is growing resistance to such outside representation of the Arctic, led by Indigenous communities and Indigenous activists who are placing human rights, decolonisation, and human agency at the heart of the debate about climate change. These developments, in turn, are part of a growing global interest in climate justice. Various media have been used to this end, from community-led filmmaking, fashion, art, digital storytelling, photography, and theatre, to the more traditional activism around UN climate meetings. The proposed PhD project will examine these growing resistance movements that attempt to reclaim the debate on climate change and promote climate justice, asking: i) how is climate justice being articulated in Arctic Indigenous cultures? ii) what drives people to stand up for climate justice (e.g. motivations, ethical commitments, worldviews)? iii) how are diverse forms of media (film, fashion, digital media, art) used to promote climate justice across cultures and scales? iv) how effective have such movements been and what lessons do they offer for other regions struggling with similar issues? and v). are there examples of policy change as a result of such action? These questions will be explored through in-depth participatory research in the Canadian Arctic and the Russian Arctic. Diverse methods from the humanities and social

How to apply

Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the University’s website. Please state clearly in the research information section that the research degree you wish to be considered for is “Climate change, cultural representation, and climate justice in the Arctic” as well as Professor James Ford ( and Dr Vald Strukov ( as your proposed supervisor.

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University’s minimum English language requirements (below).

We welcome applications from all suitably-qualified candidates, but UK black and minority ethnic (BME) researchers are currently under-represented in our Postgraduate Research community, and we would therefore particularly encourage applications from UK BME candidates. All scholarships will be awarded on the basis of merit.

Entry requirements

Applicants to PhD research degree programmes should normally have a Master’s degree and at least a first class or an Upper Second Class Bachelors Honours degree. If you hold relevant work, or other, experience the Faculty may consider this in lieu of a Masters qualification, please check with the relevant school prior to making an application. To study a Masters by Research degree you should hold, or currently be studying towards, a Bachelors Honours degree, in an appropriate discipline where your current or predicted award is at least a first class or upper second class degree. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the Graduate School prior to making an application.

English language requirements

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate study is an IELTS of 6.5 overall with at least 6.0 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking), or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some Schools, such as the School of Media and Communications, have a higher requirement.

Funding on offer

This is a 3 years scholarship funded by the University of Leeds through the Priestley International Centre for Climate. The award will provide tuition fees (£4,500 for 2019/20), tax-free stipend at the UK research council rate (£15,009 for 2019/20), and a research training and support grant of £750 per annum

Contact details

For information about the project, please contact Prof James Ford ( or Dr Vlad Strukhov (  For further information about the application procedure, please contact the Graduate School Office

Congratulations to Dr Sohns on passing her PhD defence

Congratulations to Antonia who just passed her PhD defence at McGill. Antonia joined the @ccadapt team in 2016 and her thesis examines the factors creating household water vulnerability across the Arctic. She conducted her empirical work in Alaska, with her work making a number of recommendations on how to strengthen water systems in-light of rapid climate change. Her first two papers from her thesis are already published: Sohns, A. et al (2019). What conditions are associated with household water vulnerability in the Arctic? Environmental Science and Policy, 97, 95-105; and Sohns, A. et al (2019). Water vulnerability in Arctic households. Arctic, 72 (3). 215-335

Eranga’s PhD Research Profiled by WWF Arctic Programme

Eranga’s work on adaptation of Indigenous fisheries to climate change in the Nunavummiut community of Pangnirtung was this month profiled by the WWF’s quarterly magazine – ‘The Circle’.

Worldwide, coastal Indigenous Peoples consume about 15 times as much seafood as non-Indigenous people. This includes the Arctic Inuit, who are coping with the environmental impacts of the climate crisis by increasingly turning to the ocean for food. The series of reports issued recently by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change turned an urgent spotlight on coastal aquatic systems, which will be threatened even if we succeed in limiting the global temperature increase to 1.5°C. The impacts of the climate crisis are already causing drastic changes in coastal resources— and directly affecting the people who rely on them. ADAPTING TO SURVIVE But some Inuit communities are refusing to give up. Instead, they are using their accumulated knowledge and long habit of continuous learning to help build resilience to the effects of climate change. This emphasis on climate resilience among Inuit fishing communities may broaden and deepen their ability to adapt to climate change. While completing my PhD, I was fortunate to do some field work in Pangnirtung, a beautiful coastal Inuit community on Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. This small, isolated community with a population of just over 1,400 is accessible only by aircraft for much of the year, and by boat during the summers. Travel in and out is extremely expensive. Residents must cope with other challenges as well, including housing shortages, high rates of food insecurity, and low rates of high school graduation. Many small Nunavut settlements face similar challenges, but in remote Pangnirtung, they are magnified

How do community-level climate change vulnerability assessments treat future vulnerability and integrate diverse datasets? A review of the literature. (Windfeld, E.J., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L. and McDowell, G. 2019. Environmental Reviews).

Windfeld, E.J., Ford, J.D., Berrang-Ford, L. and McDowell, G. 2019. How do community-level vulnerability assessments treat future vulnerability and integrate diverse datasets? A review of the literature. Environmental Reviews, 27(4), pp. 427-434.

Community-level vulnerability assessments (VAs) are important for understanding how populations experience vulnerabilities to climate change in different ways given local socioeconomic and environmental factors. Despite recent expansion in the literature that evaluates vulnerability at the local level, approaches to understanding future scenarios and to integrating climatic and nonclimatic factors are inconsistent and often lack clear methodological information. This study utilized systematic review methods to characterize and compare future scenarios and the integration of climatic and nonclimatic stimuli in community-focused VAs published over the last five years. Five common methods for assessing future dimensions of vulnerability were characterized. Key challenges regarding sources and scales of information were highlighted alongside methods to integrate data spanning climatic and nonclimatic information at scales ranging from local to global. The majority of VAs considered current and past vulnerability; few VAs incorporated future scenarios and these studies focused on future climatic conditions while largely overlooking changes in nonclimatic drivers of vulnerability. Approaches to evaluate future dimensions of vulnerability included climate model projections, socioeconomic model projections, temporal analogue approaches, longitudinal approaches, and local perceptions. These methods often failed to capture the dynamic interactions between variables through time, as future impacts are unlikely to follow previous patterns of change. To combine datasets of different scales, VAs created vulnerability indices, overlaid spatial datasets, or used expert judgement. These approaches tended to aggregate local characteristics to the regional level at the expense of community specificity. There is a need for methodological advances to assess future scenarios and to combine datasets in the field of community-level climate change VAs to make these studies more responsive to local realities and relevant to the development of climate change adaptation strategies.