Local effects of global warming

A new study analyzes the local vulnerability of climate change across Ecuador

World leaders gathered on November 30 at the UN conference to discuss plans to cut emissions in a bid to thwart the global threats of climate change. But how might these threats vary across local regions, and how equipped would those regions be to respond to them? A new article investigates, suggesting that—in Ecuador at least—you’re safer in the cities.

Authors Mario Fernandez at Landcare Research (New Zealand), Santiago Bucaram at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador) and Wilington Renteria at the Instituto Oceanográfico de la Armada (Ecuador) looked at the exposure, sensitivity and ability to adapt to climate change in different cantons across South America’s most densely populated country in “Assessing local vulnerability to climate change in Ecuador”, published on November 26, 2015 in SpringerPlus.

With readily available data and significant differences in climate from region to region, Ecuador was the perfect setting for the group’s study.

Vulnerability to climate change by canton
Vulnerability to climate change by canton

Using a high-resolution climate model, Fernandez et al. predicted the exposure to climate change across the country. Then, by comparing socioeconomic and physical factors, such as population density, quality of infrastructure and average business revenues, the authors determined how sensitive different regions were to climate change, and how well they were likely to adapt to it. Combining these indicators gave the level of vulnerability for each canton.

The group found that the cantons most vulnerable to climate change were those that relied heavily on the hunting, farming and fishing industries. The developed infrastructure of the largest cantons, including the capital Quito, proved highly adaptive, making the cities least vulnerable.

Climate change is one of the great global problems. Locally, however, that problem may be greater for some than others.

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