Chinese Geographical Science ›› 2013, Vol. 23 ›› Issue (1): 13-25.

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Assessing Vulnerability to Drought Based on Exposure, Sensitivity and Adaptive Capacity: A Case Study in Middle Inner Mongolia of China

LIU Xiaoqian1, WANG Yanglin1, PENG Jian1, Ademola K BRAIMOH2, YIN He3   

  1. (1. Laboratory for Earth Surface Processes, Ministry of Education, College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; 2. Global Land Project, Sapporo Nodal Office, Hokkaido University, Sapporo 060-0809, Japan; 3. Geomatics Laboratory, Geography Department, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Berlin 10099, Germany)
  • Online:2013-01-04 Published:2013-03-25


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.

Key words:  vulnerability assessment, standardized precipitation index (SPI), exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity