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Climate change vulnerability assessment

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 - 11:56am

Yesterday, The Guardian and ABC News quoted geography professor Marshall Shepherd about a study showing population concentrating into areas facing significant temperature rises. Today, we released news about a study authored by Shepherd and his colleagues about vulnerable populations in Georgia that are highly susceptible to climate change:

The study, published May 18 in Applied Geography, examines not only the sensitivity and susceptibility of populations that are vulnerable to flooding along the coast but also the social vulnerability of inland populations in Georgia. The research presents a vulnerability assessment of Georgia based on county-level statistics from 1975 to 2012.

The research finds that climate vulnerability is highest in some metropolitan Atlanta and coastal counties and in the southwestern region of Georgia and rural parts of inland Georgia.

"This study blended physical science and data on social vulnerability to provide insight for stakeholders and policymakers," said J. Marshall Shepherd, Athletic Association Distinguished Professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and co-author on the study. "Irrespective of what you believe causation to be, our Georgia cities are becoming more vulnerable to heat and flooding, our coastal areas experience nuisance flooding on rain-free days because of sea level, and some of our agricultural regions experience more frequent drought."

There is a great policy disconnect that, as it continues to be ignored, begins to resemble climate change denialism itself. While many politicians and corporate entities continue to fuel (sorry) doubts about human-activity-induced changes in the Earth's climate, others who understand the situation well are working hard, speaking out, planning, educating, writing, publishing, experimenting and generally trying to serve as the responsible experts we need to help us make the right long-term decisions. Dr. Shepherd is one of these tireless citizens, and he is by no means the only one, but he continues to be an effective, scholarly voice of reason in the face of the unfathomable changes in the Earth's climate that are happening. Emphasis hers.

Image: Figure 7 shows climate change vulnerability index that integrates change in temperature and precipitation, normalized hazard frequency per decade and social vulnerability score. Gradation of red indicates high climate change vulnerability


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