North Coast Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the North Coast Integrated Regional Water Management Plan
Prepared by 2NDNATURE for West Coast Watershed.
Vulnerability Assessment Approach
The assessment process used borrows from the ICLEI (2007) Climate Change Guide for Local Governments to provide managers with a clearer understanding of the combined relative sensitivity and adaptability North Coast sectors to potential future climate impacts. Detail and precision of this assessment is designed to match the information available as well as the likely resources available for these types of assessments (ICLEI 2007). Vulnerability is determined by considering a set of qualitative questions for which both quantitative and qualitative information may be available (sensitivity and adaptive capacity sections below). The questions considered incorporate current conditions and stressors as well as likely extent and magnitude of impacts in the region and closely reflect the concepts proposed for consideration in IRWM checklist (DWR 2011). Because many climate change impacts involve complex system responses to projected climate changes, detailed studies often involving numeric models of other systems (hydrologic, ecologic, vegetation, fire) which use climate projections as inputs are often used to determine and quantify impacts. These studies combined with regional climate projection data and region-specific information relevant to the sectors defined such as topography, land-use, crop values, water supply source, water quality issues, etc. formed the core of knowledge for identifying impacts and determining sensitivity and adaptive capacity which combine to specify vulnerability. Determinations of sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability necessarily contain a degree of subjectivity based on the availability of relevant literature, understanding of cause and effect processes relating future climatic conditions to the current and future state of the systems involved. However, a relative scale from high to low along with a consistently applied process should provide reasonable scoring precision and accuracy. The steps taken to complete the vulnerability assessment are described briefly and in general terms in the sections below.