Climatic Change

, Volume 125, Issue 3–4, pp 413–427

A probabilistic framework for assessing vulnerability to climate variability and change: the case of the US water supply system



We introduce a probabilistic framework for vulnerability analysis and use it to quantify current and future vulnerability of the US water supply system. We also determine the contributions of hydro-climatic and socio-economic drivers to the changes in projected vulnerability. For all scenarios and global climate models examined, the US Southwest including California and the southern Great Plains was consistently found to be the most vulnerable. For most of the US, the largest contributions to changes in vulnerability come from changes in supply. However, for some areas of the West changes in vulnerability are caused mainly by changes in demand. These changes in supply and demand result mainly from changes in evapotranspiration rather than from changes in precipitation. Importantly, changes in vulnerability from projected changes in the standard deviations of precipitation and evapotranspiration are of about the same magnitude or larger than those from changes in the corresponding means over most of the US, except in large areas of the Great Plains, in central California and southern and central Texas.

Supplementary material

10584_2014_1111_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3 mb)
ESM 1(PDF 3105 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Romano Foti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jorge A. Ramirez
    • 2
  • Thomas C. Brown
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA
  3. 3.Rocky Mountain Research Station, U. S. Forest ServiceFort CollinsUSA

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