The dynamics of vulnerability to drought in Europe

Conference Paper · March 2015with68 Reads

Conference: International Conference Drought R&SPI 2015, At Valencia, Spain, Volume: 1
Abstract
Vulnerability description is the key to analyse and understand region-and sector (impact category) specific risk to drought. To derive drought vulnerability indices a variety of approaches can be applied depending on research focus, scale and data availability. Generally, these indices composite from relevant vulnerability factors, past drought impacts, stakeholder perception or a combination of all. Even though vulnerability is understood to be a dynamic process, most indices for its description are static, characterized based on conditions at a particular time. However, each drought event may change a system's vulnerability and consequently its impact pattern. For the quantification of vulnerability to drought at a particular time, data on reported drought impacts was used, i.e. applied as a proxy or indicator of some level of vulnerability. Impact data used stem from two different sources: a) impact reports from the European Drought Impact Inventory (EDII) and b) the Eurostat database. For regions with data on several drought events, an ex-ante-, inter-and ex-post drought-hazard analysis of the vulnerability proxies was carried out. The study focuses on selected major European drought events from the EDR (European Drought Reference Database) and certain drought types that are typical for different European regions, defined in terms of the standardized precipitation index (SPI) and other indices. Quantitative analyses show changes in spatial and temporal occurrence-patterns and in the composition of drought impact types within the broader impact categories. These effects confirm the dynamic effects of drought events on vulnerability. Regional and impact sector specific differences reflect the complexity of underlying causes. This study improves the understanding of vulnerability as a dynamic component in drought risk research on the example of Europe. It highlights the need of for monitoring relevant drivers and processes beyond standard static analyses and offers suggestions for improved vulnerability monitoring. Furthermore it demonstrates the potential of centralized multi-thematic databases.
The dynamics of vulnerability to drought in Europe
Veit Blauhut, Kerstin Stahl, Irene Kohn
Chair of Hydrology, University of Freiburg, Germany
veit.blauhut@hydrology.uni-freiburg.de
Vulnerability description is the key to analyse and understand region- and sector (impact
category) specific risk to drought. To derive drought vulnerability indices a variety of approaches
can be applied depending on research focus, scale and data availability. Generally, these indices
composite from relevant vulnerability factors, past drought impacts, stakeholder perception or a
combination of all. Even though vulnerability is understood to be a dynamic process, most
indices for its description are static, characterized based on conditions at a particular time.
However, each drought event may change a systems vulnerability and consequently its impact
pattern.
For the quantification of vulnerability to drought at a particular time, data on reported drought
impacts was used, i.e. applied as a proxy or indicator of some level of vulnerability. Impact data
used stem from two different sources: a) impact reports from the European Drought Impact
Inventory (EDII) and b) the Eurostat database. For regions with data on several drought events,
an ex-ante-, inter- and ex-post drought-hazard analysis of the vulnerability proxies was carried
out. The study focuses on selected major European drought events from the EDR (European
Drought Reference Database) and certain drought types that are typical for different European
regions, defined in terms of the standardized precipitation index (SPI) and other indices.
Quantitative analyses show changes in spatial and temporal occurrence-patterns and in the
composition of drought impact types within the broader impact categories. These effects confirm
the dynamic effects of drought events on vulnerability. Regional and impact sector specific
differences reflect the complexity of underlying causes.
This study improves the understanding of vulnerability as a dynamic component in drought risk
research on the example of Europe. It highlights the need of for monitoring relevant drivers and
processes beyond standard static analyses and offers suggestions for improved vulnerability
monitoring. Furthermore it demonstrates the potential of centralized multi-thematic databases.
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