Agricultural vulnerability over the Chinese Loess Plateau in response to climate change: Exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Ambio, 2016, 45 (3), pp. 350 - 360
Issue Date:
2016
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Understanding how the vulnerability of agricultural production to climate change can differ spatially has practical significance to sustainable management of agricultural systems worldwide. Accordingly, this study developed a conceptual framework to assess the agricultural vulnerability of 243 rural counties on the Chinese Loess Plateau. Indicators representing the climate/agriculture interface were selected to describe exposure and sensitivity, while stocks of certain capitals were used to describe adaptive capacity. A vulnerability index for each county was calculated and the spatial distribution was mapped. Results showed that exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity occur independently, with most contributing indicator values concentrated in a narrow range after normalization. Within the 49 most vulnerable counties, which together encompass 81 % of the vulnerability index range, 42 were characterized by high exposure and sensitivity but low adaptive capacity. The most vulnerable area was found to be located in the central northeast-southwest belt of Loess Plateau. Adaptation measures for both ecological restoration and economic development are needed and potential adaptation options need further investigation.
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