Adapting Community Risk and Vulnerability Analysis for climate change.
AdaptCRVA – Adapting community risk and vulnerability analyses for climate change (2007-2010 a project in the framework of SAMRISK, financed by the Norwegian Research Council)
Project Manager: Kristina Heilemann, SINTEF
Nowadays researchers are concerned about the rapid changes of the global climate. The melting of the polar ice could cause the sea level to rise and exposes coastal areas and cities to flooding during storms. This could create a hazardous situation for billions of people, which live only few meters above the sea level. The increasing temperatures will likely change weather pattern in many areas and will influence on a big level the agriculture and the food production. Additionally heavy rainfalls influence the appearance of landslides and more snow in wintertime cause strong flesh floods during the melting periods.
For that reason risk and vulnerability analyses were developed and carried out over the whole world. A risk and vulnerability analyses helps to identify people, property and infrastructure, which are exposed to natural threats. This information is helpful to develop precautionary measures to make a community more resistant against natural hazards. Numerous methods and tools exist to evaluate impacts of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change.
Since a couple of years Norway implemented successfully a risk and vulnerability analyses, the so called ROS-analyse (risiko og såbarhetsanalyse). These analyses tool was used already by numerous Norwegian municipalities and the results serve decision makers and responsible institutions as a basis for land use planning, early warning system, crisis management and for the development of precautionary measures. However until now threats caused by natural hazards were only one aspect beside threats cause by terrorism, accidents, pollution, radioactivity, epidemics etc.
One big challenge for the AdaptCRVA project could be to answer following questions:
Where are the differences and similarities between ROS and RVAs for climate change, which are used in other countries?
Can ROS be modified into a community risk and vulnerability analyses for climate change?
And if this would be possible, would ROS, which is an adequate method for Norway, also work in other countries?
Beside these “technical” questions the topic “climate change and the role for the risk community in Norway” will become a significant research topic for the recent AdaptCRVA project.
The first year of the project was used to investigate the state of the art according to risk and vulnerability analyses for climate change. Numerous methods exist all over the world. However, most of the methodologies are useful for example for development countries or for specific sectors like agriculture or health. Some of the methodologies which cover a general approach are very complex and expensive and require very often the participation of an expert team. After the comparison of worldwide existing methods to analyse risk and vulnerability with a special focus on climate change we focused on the Risiko- og Sårbarhets-analyses (ROS), which is a common risk analyses tool in Norway and used already by many municipalities. Since the ROS analyses covers numerous sectors from energy supply over food production to the health sector and therefore follows a very common approach, we decided to go more in detail and to investigate how sufficient is the ROS-analyses according to the impact of climate change and how sufficient is the tool for a specific sector. Jørn Vatn, professor at the NTNU, was so kind and provided us special software, which was developed within the DECRIS-project. After several interviews with representative of the Department of Infrastructure and Urban Development from the Trondheim municipality in which we discussed the flood problematic for the waste water system, it turned out that the software tool has to be modified according to the impact of climate change. We are convinced that the so customised ROS-analyses methodology is a sufficient tool to evaluate the risk and vulnerability according to the impacts of climate change, in the recent case the flood problematic. Furthermore is the “new” method transferable to other sectors of infrastructure and can easily used for risk and vulnerability analyses in sectors like transport, energy supply or communication. The disadvantage of the customised analyses method is that it provides only qualitative results. For quantitative predictions advanced analyses methods and models are required. However, the customised ROS-analyses for climate change is a sufficient method which provides a time and cost effective evaluation about the influence of natural hazards for a specific sector. The municipalities and infrastructure owner gain a tool to qualify and to visualise the threats for their system and therefore it is a sufficient tool for the whole planning and decision making process.
Risk and vulnerability analyse methods for climate change is also from high international importance. The results of the AdaptCRVA-project will pass into an EU-project with the title FloodProBE Flood Protection of the Built Environment, which will start in November 2009 and where some of the AdaptCRVA members will play a significant role in the development of risk and vulnerability methods for climate change, particular for the flood problematic.
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