Recent Publications

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.

A policy mixes approach to conceptualizing and measuring climate change adaptation policy. (Lesnikowski, A., Ford, J.D., Biesbroek, R. and Berrang-Ford, L. 2019. Climatic Change).

Lesnikowski, A., Ford, J.D., Biesbroek, R. and Berrang-Ford, L. (2019). A policy mixes approach to conceptualizing and measuring climate change adaptation policy. Climatic Change156(4), article online.

Comparative research on climate change adaptation policy struggles with robust conceptualization and measurement of adaptation policy. Using a policy mixes approach to address this challenge, we characterize adaptation policy based on a general model of how governments govern issues of societal interest. We argue that this approach allows for context-sensitive measurement of adaptation policy, while being both comparable and parsimonious. This approach is tested in a study of adaptation policies adopted by 125 local governments located in Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK. Using a systematic data collection protocol, a total of 3328 adaptation policies were identified from local council archives between the periods of January 2010 and May 2017. Results of this analysis suggest that there is structured variation emerging in how local governments govern climate change adaptation, which justifies calls for comparative adaptation research to use measurements that capture the totality of adaptation policies being adopted by governments rather than focusing on specific types of adaptation policy. We conclude with a discussion of key issues for further developing of this approach.