231422 Social Vulnerability Index and Climate Change in the Southeastern US

Wednesday, November 10, 2010 : 11:10 AM - 11:30 AM

Susan Cutter, PhD , Director of the Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Christopher Emrich, PhD , Geography, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Between 1960 and 2008 the hazards associated with climate change, namely drought, flooding, more intense hurricanes, and sea-level rise caused more than $321 Billion in damage to the United States. Losses from these events are likely to increase in the coming years/decades unless something is done to mitigate their devastating impacts. This research provides a spatial perspective on the existing social vulnerability of the population in the US Southeast and the relationship between social vulnerability and four climate-change related hazards (flooding, hurricane winds, drought, and sea level rise). When examined together, these maps provide an assessment of the likely spatial impacts of climate variability—past, present, future—for county, state, and regional geographies. The identification of such patterns provides a scientifically based mechanism that can assist decision makers, planners, and emergency managers in assessments of programmatic needs and opportunities within the region. It provides the evidentiary basis for developing targeted strategic initiatives for disaster risk reduction including preparedness for response and recovery, and longer-term adaptation in those most vulnerable and highly impacted areas. The project provides a new approach to regional assessments of climate change by presenting an empirically based and geographically referenced assessment of social vulnerability to climate variability hazards for a U.S. region.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences
Systems thinking models (conceptual and theoretical models), applications related to public health

Learning Objectives:
Learning Objective 1: Demonstrate an understanding of the spatial variability in climate change hazards in the US context. Learning Objective 2: Discuss differential social vulnerability in the Southeast United States based on a peer-reviewed methodology. Learning Objective 3: Evaluate a diverse set of hazards mitigation activities (structural and non-structural) as they apply to climate change threats.

Keywords: Vulnerable Populations, Climate Change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am a research assistant professor in the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute where I consistently undertake research on social vulnerability to hazards and disasters.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.