297 Using GIS to assess vulnerability to climate hazards in the southern United States

Monday, 24 January 2011
Washington State Convention Center
Robert J. Gottlieb, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and H. E. Brooks, M. A. Shafer, and M. Richman
Manuscript (850.0 kB)

Handout (1.6 MB)

Recent disasters in the southern United States (e.g. Hurricane Katrina, several tornado outbreaks, ice storms and blizzards in Oklahoma) have highlighted the vulnerability of this region's population to meteorological and climatological hazards. In meteorology some studies have used limited data (e.g. fatalities from previous events) as proxies for vulnerability. This methodology provides incomplete information on the effects of hazards and does not measure which areas could be most affected by future events. In order to reduce these shortcomings, this study examines different definitions of vulnerability which have been applied to other research fields.

A geographic information system (GIS) is used to assess the vulnerability of the southern United States to several meteorological hazards. The study focuses on the region covered by the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP), a part of the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program. The SCIPP region includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. There are significant differences between two subregions of the study area. One subregion contains Oklahoma and Texas, while the other contains Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. While Oklahoma and Texas are exposed to more hazards (especially tornadoes), the impacts of these events are greater in the eastern region.

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