Skip to main content

Assessing vulnerability to drought based on exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity: A case study in middle Inner Mongolia of China

Abstract

In this paper, we proposed a framework for evaluating the performance of ecosystem strategies prepared for enhancing vulnerability reduction in the face of hazards due to climate change. The framework highlights the positive effects of human activities in the coupled human and natural system (CHANS) by introducing adaptive capacity as an evaluation criterion. A built-in regional vulnerability to a certain hazard was generated based upon interaction of three dimensions of vulnerability: exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity. We illustrated the application of this framework in the temperate farming-grazing transitional zone in the middle Inner Mongolia of the northern China, where drought hazard is the key threat to the CHANS. Specific indices were produced to translate such climate variance and social-economic differences into specific indicators. The results showed that the most exposed regions are the inner land areas, while counties located in the eastern part are potentially the most adaptive ones. Ordos City and Bayannur City are most frequently influenced by multiple climate variances, showing highest sensitivity. Analysis also indicated that differences in the ability to adapt to changes are the main causes of spatial differences. After depiction of the spatial differentiations and analysis of the reasons, climate zones were divided to depict the differences in facing to the drought threats. The climate zones were shown to be similar to vulnerability zones based on the quantitative structure of indexes drafted by a triangular map. Further analysis of the composition of the vulnerability index showed that the evaluation criteria were effective in validating the spatial differentiation but potentially ineffective because of their limited time scope. This research will be a demonstration of how to combine the three dimensions by quantitative methods and will thus provide a guide for government to vulnerability reduction management.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

References

  • Adger W N, 2006. Vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 163(16): 268–281. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2006.02.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Birkmann J, 2007. Risk and vulnerability indicators at different scales: Applicability, usefulness and policy implications. Environmental Hazards, 7(1): 20–31. doi: 10.1016/j.envhaz.2007.04.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Blaikie P, Cannon T, Davis I et al., 1994. At Risk: Natural Hazards, Peoples, Vulnerability and Disasters. London: Routledge.

    Google Scholar 

  • Braimoh A K, 2009. Agricultural land-use change during economic reforms in Ghana. Land Use Policy, 26(3): 763–771. doi: 10.1016/j.landusepol.2008.10.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Brooks N, Adger W N, Kelly P M, 2005. The determinants of vulnerability and adaptive capacity at the national level and the implications for adaptation. Global Environmental Change, 15(2): 151–163. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2004.12.006

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chang C L, Chao Y C, 2011. Using the analytical hierarchy process to assess the environmental vulnerabilities of basins in Taiwan. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 184(5): 2939–2945. doi: 10.1007/s10661-011-2162-z

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eakin H, Luers A L, 2006. Assessing the vulnerability of social-environmental systems. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 31: 365–394. doi: 10.1146/annurev.energy.30.050504.14435

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Guttman N B, 1998. Comparing the palmer drought index and the standardized precipitation index. Journal of the American Water Resources Association, 34(1): 113–121. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-1688.1998.tb05964.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hinkel J, 2011. Indicators of vulnerability and adaptive capacity: Towards a clarification of the science-policy interface. Global Environmental Change, 21(1): 198–208. doi: 10.1016/j.Gloenvcha.2010.08.002

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region Bureau of Statistics, 2007. Inner Mongolia Statistical Yearbook. Beijing: China Statistics Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), 2000. Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. The Contribution of Working Group II to the Third Scientific Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Jackson L E, Bird S L, Matheny R W et al., 2004. A regional approach to predicting land-use change and resulting ecological vulnerability. Environment Monitoring and Assessments, 94(1–3): 231–248. doi: 10.1023/B:EMAS.0000016891.24052. bf

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones R N, Dettmann P, Park G et al., 2007. The relationship between adaptation and mitigation in managing climate change risks: A regional response from North Central Victoria, Australia. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, 12(5): 685–712. doi: 10.1007/s11027-007-9094-5

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kelly P M, Adger W N, 2000. Theory and practice in assessing vulnerability to climate change and facilitating adaptation. Climatic Change, 47(4): 325–352. doi: 10.1023/A:1005627828199

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Leng Shuying, 1994. Human impacts on environmental degradation of the Ordos. Chinese Journal of Arid Land Resources and Environment, 8: 44–52. (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Li A, Wang A, Liang S et al., 2006. Eco-environmental vulnerability evaluation in mountainous region using remote sensing and GIS-A case study in the upper reaches of Minjiang River, China. Ecological Modeling, 192(1–2): 175–187. doi: 10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2005.07.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Li Weijing, Zhao Zhengguo, Li Xiang et al., 2003. The drought characteristics analysis in North China and its causes of formation. Arid Meteorology, 21(4): 1–5. (in Chinese).

    Google Scholar 

  • Liu J G, Diamond J, 2005. China’s environment in a globalizing world. Nature, 435: 1179–1186. doi: 10.1038/4351179a

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu J G, Dietz T, Carpenter S R et al., 2007a. Complexity of coupled human and natural systems. Science, 317(5844): 1513–1516. doi: 10.1126/science.1144004

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Liu J G, Dietz T, Carpenter S R et al., 2007b. Coupled human and natural systems. AMBIO, 36(8): 639–649. doi: 10.1579/0044-7447(2007)36[639:CHANS]2.0.CO;2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Luers A L, Lobell D B, Sklar L S et al., 2003. A method for quantifying vulnerability, applied to the agricultural system of the Yaqui Valley, Mexico. Global Environmental Change, 13(4): 255–267. doi: 10.1016/S0959-3780(03)00054-2

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McCarthy J J, Canziani O F, Leary N A et al., 2001. Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Mckee T B, Doesken N J, Kleist J, 1993. The relationship of drought frequency and duration to time scales. Proceeding of 8th Conference on Applied Climatology, California.

  • National Bureau of Statistics of China, 2007. Statistical Yearbook of China. Beijing: China Statistics Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Brien K, Eriksen S, Schjolen A et al., 2004a. What’s in a word? Conflicting interpretations of vulnerability in climate change research. CICERO working paper. Norway: Oslo University.

    Google Scholar 

  • O’Brien K, Leichenko R, Kelkar U et al., 2004b. Mapping vulnerability to multiple stressors: Climate change and globalization in India. Global Environmental Change, 14(4): 303–313. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2004.01.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Olga V W, Donald A W, 2002. Assessing vulnerability to agricultural drought: A Nebraska case study. Natural Hazards, 25(1): 37–58. doi: 10.1023/A:1013388814894

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Polsky C, Neff R, Yarnal B, 2007. Building comparable global change vulnerability assessments: The vulnerability scoping diagram. Global Environmental Change, 17(3–4): 472–485. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2007.01.005

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smit B, Wandel J, 2006. Adaptation, adaptive capacity and vulnerability. Global Environmental Change, 16(3): 282–292. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2006.03.008

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Song Naiping, Zhang Fengrong, 2007. The changing process and mechanism of the farming-grazing transitional land use pattern in Ordos. Acta Geographica Sinica, 62(12): 1300–1308. (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

  • Tol R S J, Yohe G W, 2007. The weakest link hypothesis for adaptive capacity: An empirical test. Global Environmental Change, 17(2): 218–227. doi: 10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2006.08.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turner B L, Kasperson R E, Matson P A et al., 2003a. A framework for vulnerability analysis in sustainability science. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(14): 8074–8079. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1231335100

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Turner B L, Matson P A, McCarthy J J et al., 2003b. Illustrating the coupled human-environment system for vulnerability analysis: Three case studies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(14): 8080–8085. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1231334100

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wu H, Hayes M, Weiss A et al., 2001. An evaluation of the standardized precipitation index, the China-z index and the statistical z-score. International Journal of Climatology, 21(6): 745–758. doi: 10.1002/joc.658

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wu H, Svoboda M D, Hayes M J et al., 2007. Appropriate application of the standardized precipitation index in arid locations and dry seasons. International Journal of Climatology, 27(1): 65–79. doi: 10.1002/joc.1371

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Yohe G, Tol R S J, 2002. Indicators for social and economic coping capacity-moving toward a working definition of adaptive capacity. Global Environmental Change, 12(1): 25–40. doi: 10.1016/S0959-3780(01)00026-7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Zhang Tianfeng, Wang Jinsong, Guo Jiangyong, 2007. Analysis on the change of aridity index in Northwest China in autumn. Arid Zone Research, 87(1): 87–92. (in Chinese)

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yanglin Wang.

Additional information

Foundation item: Under the auspices of Public Welfare Scientific Research Project of Chinese Ministry of Land and Resource (No. 200911015-2)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Liu, X., Wang, Y., Peng, J. et al. Assessing vulnerability to drought based on exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity: A case study in middle Inner Mongolia of China. Chin. Geogr. Sci. 23, 13–25 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11769-012-0583-4

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11769-012-0583-4

Keywords

  • vulnerability assessment
  • standardized precipitation index (SPI)
  • exposure
  • sensitivity
  • adaptive capacity