Ecosystem vulnerability to climate change: a literature review uri icon


  • This working paper reports results form a literature review on ecosystem vulnerability to climate change undertaken within the CIFOR - led project AdaptEA, fu nded by the Rockefeller Foundation. A total of 410 scientific publications were reviewed, with 183 s tudies examined in detail. The number of papers published per year increased rapidly over time, with 94 studies appearing in 2011. Of those paper s with clea r geographic focus, most examined European or North American ecosystems, with only 18 studies focusing on Africa. Climatic and environmental drivers considered were temperature (52% of studies), precipitation (52%), carbon dioxide (15%) and rising sea leve l (11%). Methods used in assessment were expert knowledge (29%), statistical in ference (27%), mechanistic modelling (27%), observation (5%) and experimentation (2%). Ten per cent of studies presented concepts for vulnerability assessment. For each major as sessment type, sub - types we re defined and evaluated. Few approaches taken to date satisfactorily cover all relevant aspects of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of ecosystems. Climate analogue analysis is presented as an alternative approach. Thi s method is based on a comparison of presently existing ecosystems with ecosystems at a different location, where the present climate is similar to the climate projected for the target location in the future. Potentials and limitations of climate analogues for evaluating ecosystem vulnerability are discussed

publication date

  • 2013