Climatic Change

, Volume 139, Issue 2, pp 183–200 | Cite as

Can we learn from the past? Four hundred years of changes in adaptation to floods and droughts. Measuring the vulnerability in two Hispanic cities

  • Salvador Gil-GuiradoEmail author
  • José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez
  • María Del Rosario Prieto


In a context of increasingly severe weather disasters around the globe, planning strategies are critical. The study of vulnerability to climate risks reveals the failures of current social models to adapt to a changing environment due to heterogeneous cultural, economic, political and historical developments. Any discussion regarding vulnerability to climate risks requires knowing how societies have faced natural disasters in the past. We propose the Perceptual Index for Changes in Climate Risk (PICCR). The PICCR is an index that groups several social indicators into four factors that summarize the evolution of both vulnerability and adaptation to floods and droughts. We compute the evolution of the PICCR and its main factor in two similar medium-sized Hispanic cities (Murcia in Spain and Mendoza in Argentina) from the 17th century to the present time. The results show that, over the last four centuries, hazard perception has improved, vulnerability remains high and adaptation strategies have improved, but not as much as current technology allows.


Natural Disaster Natural Hazard Adaptation Strategy Social Vulnerability Risk Process 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We acknowledge financial support from the Economic Growth Center at Yale University and the Séneca Foundation (Agencia de Ciencia y Tecnología de la Región de Murcia). The authors thank two anonymous referees for useful comments and discussions. The authors also want to thank Kelly Goodman for editorial help.

Supplementary material

10584_2016_1768_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.6 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 1636 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Salvador Gil-Guirado
    • 1
    Email author
  • José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez
    • 2
  • María Del Rosario Prieto
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of MurciaMurciaSpain
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsYale UniversityNew HavenUSA
  3. 3.Dendrochronology and Environmental History DepartmentArgentine Institute of Snow Research, Glaciology and Environmental Sciences (IANIGLA)MendozaArgentina

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