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A review of vulnerability indicators for deltaic social–ecological systems

Sebesvari, Zita and Renaud, Fabrice and Haas, Susanne and Tessler, Zachary and Hagenlocher, Michael and Kloos, Julia and Szabo, Sylvia and Tejedor, Alejandro and Künzer, Claudia (2016) A review of vulnerability indicators for deltaic social–ecological systems. Sustainability Science, 11 (4), pp. 575-590. Springer. DOI: 10.1007/s11625-016-0366-4 ISSN 1862-4065

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Official URL: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-016-0366-4


The sustainability of deltas worldwide is under threat due to the consequences of global environmental change (including climate change) and human interventions in deltaic landscapes. Understanding these systems is becoming increasingly important to assess threats to and opportunities for long-term sustainable development. Here, we propose a simplified, yet inclusive social–ecological system (SES)-centered risk and vulnerability framework and a list of indicators proven to be useful in past delta assessments. In total, 236 indicators were identified through a structured review of peer-reviewed literature performed for three globally relevant deltas—the Mekong, the Ganges–Brahmaputra–Meghna and the Amazon. These are meant to serve as a preliminary “library” of potential indicators to be used for future vulnerability assessments. Based on the reviewed studies, we identified disparities in the availability of indicators to populate some of the vulnerability domains of the proposed framework, as comprehensive social–ecological assessments were seldom implemented in the past. Even in assessments explicitly aiming to capture both the social and the ecological system, there were many more indicators for social susceptibility and coping/adaptive capacities as compared to those relevant for characterizing ecosystem susceptibility or robustness. Moreover, there is a lack of multi-hazard approaches accounting for the specific vulnerability profile of sub-delta areas. We advocate for more comprehensive, truly social–ecological assessments which respond to multi-hazard settings and recognize within-delta differences in vulnerability and risk. Such assessments could make use of the proposed framework and list of indicators as a starting point and amend it with new indicators that would allow capturing the complexity as well as the multi-hazard exposure in a typical delta SES.

Item URL in elib:https://elib.dlr.de/104228/
Document Type:Article
Title:A review of vulnerability indicators for deltaic social–ecological systems
AuthorsInstitution or Email of AuthorsAuthors ORCID iD
Tessler, ZacharyCity University of New YorkUNSPECIFIED
Hagenlocher, MichaelUNU-EHSUNSPECIFIED
Szabo, SylviaUniversity of SouthamptonUNSPECIFIED
Tejedor, AlejandroUniversity of MinnesotaUNSPECIFIED
Künzer, ClaudiaClaudia.Kuenzer (at) dlr.deUNSPECIFIED
Date:3 May 2016
Journal or Publication Title:Sustainability Science
Refereed publication:Yes
Open Access:No
Gold Open Access:No
In ISI Web of Science:Yes
DOI :10.1007/s11625-016-0366-4
Page Range:pp. 575-590
Keywords:Sustainable deltas, Social–ecological systems, Vulnerability assessment frameworks, Indicators, Multiple hazards
HGF - Research field:Aeronautics, Space and Transport
HGF - Program:Space
HGF - Program Themes:Earth Observation
DLR - Research area:Raumfahrt
DLR - Program:R EO - Erdbeobachtung
DLR - Research theme (Project):R - Vorhaben Fernerkundung der Landoberfläche (old)
Location: Oberpfaffenhofen
Institutes and Institutions:German Remote Sensing Data Center > Land Surface
Deposited By: Knauer, Kim
Deposited On:11 May 2016 08:53
Last Modified:06 Sep 2019 15:19

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