Climate change vulnerability assessment in Georgia
Climate change is occurring in the Southeastern United States, and one manifestation is changes in frequency and intensity of extreme events. A vulnerability assessment is performed in the state of Georgia (United States) at the county level from 1975 to 2012 in decadal increments. Climate change vulnerability is typically measured as a function of exposure to physical phenomena (e.g., droughts, floods), sensitivity to factors affecting the social milieu, and the capacity of a given unit to adapt to changing physical conditions. The paper builds on previous assessments and offers a unique approach to vulnerability analyses by combining climatic, social, land cover, and hydrological components together into a unified vulnerability assessment, which captures both long-term and hydroclimatic events. Climate change vulnerability indices are derived for the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. Climate change exposure is measured as: 1) departure of decadal mean temperature and precipitation from baseline temperature and precipitation (1971e2000) using the United States Historical Climatology Network version 2.5 and 2) extreme hydroclimatic hazards indicated by flood, heat wave and drought events. Sensitivity and adaptive capacity are measured by well-established conceptualizations and methods built derived from socioeconomic variables. Impervious surface and flood susceptibility area are also incorporated to account for place-based vulnerability. Anomalies in temperature and precipitation with an overall trend towards drying and warming have been observed. The anomalous cooling period in Georgia during the 1970e1980 period as well as the post-1980 warm-up have been captured with a clearly established increase in extreme hydroclimatic events in recent decades. Climate vulnerability is highest in some metropolitan Atlanta and coastal counties. However, the southwestern region of Georgia, and part of the rural Black belt region are found to be especially vulnerable to climate change.