Climate change hotspots mapping: what have we learned?

Abstract

In the past 5 years there has been a proliferation of efforts to map climate change “hotspots” — regions that are particularly vulnerable to current or future climate impacts, and where human security may be at risk. While some are academic exercises, many are produced with the goal of drawing policy maker attention to regions that are particularly susceptible to climate impacts, either to mitigate the risk of humanitarian crises or conflicts or to target adaptation assistance. Hotspots mapping efforts address a range of issues and sectors such as vulnerable populations, humanitarian crises, conflict, agriculture and food security, and water resources. This paper offers a timely assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of current hotspots mapping approaches with the goal of improving future efforts. It also highlights regions that are anticipated, based on combinations of high exposure, high sensitivity and low adaptive capacity, to suffer significant impacts from climate change.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

References

  1. Abson DJ, Dougill AJ, Stringer LC (2012) Using principal component analysis for information-rich socio-ecological vulnerability mapping in Southern Africa. Appl Geogr 35:515–524

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Adger N (2006) Vulnerability. Glob Environ Chang 16:268–281

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. Baettig MB, Wild M, Imboden DM (2007) A climate change index. Geophys Res Lett 34, L01705

    Google Scholar 

  4. Barnett J, Lambert S, Fry I (2008) The hazards of indicators: insights from the Environmental Vulnerability Index. Ann Assoc Am Geogr 98(1):102–119

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Birkmann J, Wisner B (2006) Measuring the Un-Measurable. UNU-EHS SOURCE No. 5, Bonn, Germany: UNU-EHS

  6. Birkmann J, Krause D, Stiadi N, Suarez D, Welle T, Wolfertz J (2011) World risk report. UNU and IEHS, Bonn

    Google Scholar 

  7. Black R, Bennett SRG, Thomas SM, Beddington JR (2011) Migration as adaptation. Nature 478:447–449

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Brown C, Wilby RL (2012) An alternate approach to assessing climate risks. Eos 93(41):401–402

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Busby JW, Smith TG, White KL (2011) Locating climate insecurity: where are the most vulnerable places in Africa? Climate Change and African Political Stability Program Policy Brief No. 3

  10. CARE and Maplecroft (2008) Humanitarian implications of climate change: mapping emerging trends and risk hotspots. CARE International, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  11. Davies RAG, Midgley SJE (2010) Risk and vulnerability mapping in Southern Africa: a hotspots analysis. OneWorld Sustainable Investments (Pty) Ltd, Cape Town

    Google Scholar 

  12. de Sherbinin A, Warner K, Ehrhart C (2011) Casualties of climate change. Sci Am January 2011: 64–71

  13. De Stefano L, Duncan J, Dinar S, Stahl K, Strzepek K, Wolf AT (2010) Mapping the resilience of International river basins to future climate change-induced water variability, vol 15, Water Sector Board Discussion Paper. The World Bank, Washington DC

    Google Scholar 

  14. Diffenbaugh NS, Giorgi F, Pal JS (2008) Climate change hotspots in the United States. Geophys Res Lett 35, L16709

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Dilley M, Chen R, Deichmann U, Lerner-Lam A, Arnold M (2005) Natural disaster hotspots. World. Bank, Washington, DC

    Google Scholar 

  16. Döll P (2009) Vulnerability to the impact of climate change on renewable groundwater resources. Environ Res Lett 4:035006. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/4/3/035006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Dransch D, Rotzoll H, Poser K (2010) The contribution of maps to the challenges of risk communication to the public. Int J Digit Earth 3(3):292–311

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Eakin H, Luers A (2006) Assessing the vulnerability of socio-environmental systems. Annu Rev Environ Resour 31:365–394

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Ericksen P, Thornton P, Notenbaert A, Cramer L, Jones P, Herrero M (2011) Mapping hotspots of climate change and food insecurity in the global tropics. CCAFS Report no. 5. Copenhagen, Denmark

  20. ESPON Climate (2011) Climate change and territorial effects on Regions and local economies. Applied Research 2013/1/4. Final Report, Version 31/5/2011

  21. Fraser EDG, Simelton E, Termansen M, Gosling SN, South A (2013) “Vulnerability hotspots”: integrating socio-economic and hydrological models to identify where cereal production may decline in the future due to climate change induced drought. Agr Forest Meteorol 170:195–205

    Article  Google Scholar 

  22. Füssel H-M (2007) Vulnerability: a generally applicable conceptual framework for climate change research. Glob Environ Chang 17:155–167

    Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Giorgi F (2006) Climate change hot-spots. Geophys Res Lett 33, L08707. doi:10.1029/2006GL025734

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Hagenlocher M, Lang S, Holbling D et al (2013) Modeling hotspots of climate change in the Sahel using object-based regionalization of multidimensional gridded datasets. IEEE J Sel Top Appl Earth Obs Remote Sens. doi:10.1109/JSTARS.2013.2259579

    Google Scholar 

  25. IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) (2012) Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation. In: Field CB et al (eds.) Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, and New York, NY, USA, 582 pp

  26. Kasperson RE, Dow K, Archer E, Caceres D, Downing T et al (2005) Vulnerable people and places. Chapter 6 In: Millennium ecosystem assessment. Island Press, Washington, DC

  27. Klein RJT (2009) Identifying countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change: an academic or a political challenge? Carbon and Climate Law Review 3:284–291

  28. Kok MTJ, Lüdeke MKB, Sterzel T, Lucas PL, Walter C, Janssen P, de Soysa I (2010) Quantitative analysis of patterns of vulnerability to global environmental change. PBL, Den Haag/Bilthoven

    Google Scholar 

  29. Liu J, Fritz S, van Wesenbeeck CFA, Fuchs M, You L, Obersteiner M, Yang H (2008) A spatially explicit assessment of current and future hotspots of hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa in the context of global change. Global Planet Change 64(2008):222–235

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Lüdeke MKB, Petschel-Held G, Schellnhuber HJ (2004) Syndromes of global change. GAIA 13(1):42–49

    Google Scholar 

  31. McGranahan G, Balk D, Anderson B (2007) Low Elevation Coastal Zone (LECZ) urban–rural population estimates. NASA SEDAC, Palisades

    Google Scholar 

  32. Midgley SJE, Davies RAG, Chesterman S (2011) Climate risk and vulnerability mapping: Status quo (2008) and future (2050). Report produced for UK Department for International Development (DFID)

  33. Montello DR, Freundschuh S (2005) Cognition of Geographic Information. In: McMaster RB, Usery EL (eds) A Research Agenda for Geographic Information Science. CRC Press, Boca Raton

    Google Scholar 

  34. Myers N (1990) Threatened biotas: expanded hot-spots analysis. Environmentalist 10:243–256

    Article  Google Scholar 

  35. O’Brien KL, Eriksen S, Nygaard L, Schjolden A (2007) Why different interpretations of vulnerability matter in climate change discourses. Clim Pol 7:73–88

    Google Scholar 

  36. Parish ES, Kodra E, Steinhauser K, Ganguly AR (2012) Estimating future global per capita water availability based on changes in climate and population. Comput Geosci 42:79–86

    Article  Google Scholar 

  37. Parry ML, Canziani OF, Palutikof JP, van der Linden PJ, Hanson CE (eds) (2007) Climate change 2007: impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  38. Patt A, Dessai S (2005) Communicating uncertainty: lessons learned and suggestions for climate change assessment. C R Geoscience 337:425–441

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Piontek F, Müller C, Pugh TAM et al (2013) Multisectoral climate impacts in a warming world. Proc Natl Acad Sci. doi:10.1073/pnas.1222471110, early online edition

    Google Scholar 

  40. Preston B, Yuen EJ, Westaway RM (2011) Putting vulnerability to climate change on the map: a review of approaches, benefits, and risks. Sustain Sci 6:177–202

    Article  Google Scholar 

  41. Samson J, Berteaux D, McGill BJ, Humphries MM (2011) Geographic disparities and moral hazards in the predicted impacts of climate change on human populations. Glob Ecol Biogeogr. doi:10.1111/j.1466-8238.2010.00632.x

    Google Scholar 

  42. Scheffran J, Battaglini A (2011) Climate and conflicts: the security risks of global warming. Reg Environ Chang 11(Suppl 1):S27–S39. doi:10.1007/s10113-010-0175-8

    Article  Google Scholar 

  43. Schröter D, Cramer W, Leemans R et al (2005) Ecosystem service supply and vulnerability to global change in Europe. Science 310:1333–1337

    Article  Google Scholar 

  44. Schubert R, Schellnhuber HJ, Buchmann N, Epiney A, Grießhammer R, Kulessa M, Messner D, Rahmstorf S, Schmid J (2007) Climate change as a security risk. Earthscan and German Advisory Council on Global Change (WBGU), London

    Google Scholar 

  45. Shen X, Downing TE, Hamza M (eds) (2010) Tipping points in humanitarian crisis: from hot spots to hot systems. Studies of the University: Research, Counsel, Education (SOURCE) Publication Series of UNU-EHS, No. 13/2010

  46. Thornton, PK, PG Jones, T Owiyo, RL Kruska, M Herrero, V Orindi, S Bhadwal, P Kristjanson, A Notenbaert, N Bekele, A Omolo (2008) Climate change and poverty in Africa: mapping hotspots of vulnerability. AfJARE 2(1) March 2008

  47. Thow A, de Blois M (2008) Climate change and human vulnerability: mapping emerging trends and risk hotspots for humanitarian actors. Maplecroft, and CARE International, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  48. Torres RR, Lapola DM, Marengo JA, Lombardo MA (2012) Socio-climatic hotspots in Brazil. Clim Change 115:597–609

    Article  Google Scholar 

  49. UNISDR (2009) Global assessment report on disaster risk reduction. United Nations, Geneva

    Google Scholar 

  50. Warner K, Erhart C, de Sherbinin A, Adamo SB, Chai-Onn T (2009) In search of shelter. UNU, Bonn

    Google Scholar 

  51. Warner K, Afifi T, Henry K, Rawe T, Smith C, de Sherbinin A (2012) Where the rain falls. UNU and CARE, Bonn

    Google Scholar 

  52. Yohe G, Malone E, Brenkert A, Schlesinger M, Meij H, Xing X, Lee D (2006) Global distributions of vulnerability to climate change. Integr Assess J 6(3):35–44

    Google Scholar 

  53. Yusuf AA, Francisco H (2009) Climate change vulnerability mapping for Southeast Asia. EEPSEA, Singapore

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgments

The author would like to acknowledge comments on an earlier version of this paper by Richard Sliuzas of ITC/University of Twente and by three anonymous reviewers. He presented earlier versions of this paper and benefited from exchanges with researchers at the ICARUS II and Adaptation Futures conferences in May 2012.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Alex de Sherbinin.

Additional information

This article is part of a Special Issue on “Climate and Security: Evidence, Emerging Risks, and a New Agenda” edited by François Gemenne, Neil Adger, Jon Barnett, and Geoff Dabelko.

Electronic supplementary material

Below is the link to the electronic supplementary material.

ESM 1

(PDF 3.37 MB)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

de Sherbinin, A. Climate change hotspots mapping: what have we learned?. Climatic Change 123, 23–37 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-013-0900-7

Download citation

Keywords

  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Climate Impact
  • Supplementary Online Material
  • SRES Scenario
  • General Circulation Model Output