Comparing Socio-ecological Vulnerability Assessments in the Mississippi Delta.

Carl Anderson – UNU-EHS Master’s student

There are many index-based approaches intended to assess socio-ecological vulnerability to natural hazards. Two such indices are the Global Deltas Risk Index (GDRI), created by UNU-EHS, and the Social Vulnerability Index (SoVI), introduced by Cutter et al. (2003) and a continued research focus at the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute (HVRI) at the University of South Carolina. Although there are numerous indices with varying conceptual underpinnings and methodologies, there is a dearth of scientific research which compares existing approaches.

As a contribution to my Master’s thesis at UNU-EHS, I am comparing these indices in the social-ecological context of the Mississippi Delta, one of the most vulnerable regions in the US. By exploring the relation between index results at census tract resolution, the goal is not only to better determine the distribution of vulnerability and risk, but also to gain valuable insight into these concepts and the distinct ways they are estimated.

Thanks to a previous collaboration between UNU-EHS and Susan Cutter, I could spend time working at the HVRI in January, where I presented the background and preliminary results of my research, received critical feedback and networked with other scientists sharing similar research interests and relevant projects.