Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 1–16 | Cite as

Towards a Formal Framework of Vulnerability to Climate Change

  • Cezar Ionescu
  • Richard J. T. Klein
  • Jochen Hinkel
  • K. S. Kavi Kumar
  • Rupert Klein
Article

Abstract

There is confusion regarding the notion of “vulnerability” in the climate change scientific community. Recent research has identified a need for formalisation, which would support accurate communication and the elimination of misunderstandings that result from the use of ambiguous terminology. Moreover, a formal framework of vulnerability is a prerequisite for computational approaches to its assessment. This paper presents an attempt at developing such a formal framework. We see vulnerability as a relative concept in the sense that accurate statements about vulnerability are possible only if one clearly specifies (1) the entity that is vulnerable, (2) the stimulus to which it is vulnerable and (3) the preference criteria to evaluate the outcome of the interaction between the entity and the stimulus. We relate the resulting framework to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change conceptualisation of vulnerability and two recent vulnerability studies.

Keywords

Vulnerability Adaptive capacity Climate change Formalisation System theory 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cezar Ionescu
    • 1
  • Richard J. T. Klein
    • 2
  • Jochen Hinkel
    • 1
  • K. S. Kavi Kumar
    • 3
  • Rupert Klein
    • 4
  1. 1.Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact ResearchPotsdamGermany
  2. 2.Stockholm Environment InstituteStockholmSweden
  3. 3.Madras School of EconomicsChennaiIndia
  4. 4.Freie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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