What is vulnerability?
Vulnerability is the potential to be harmed and is a result of exposure to threats, sensitivity to those threats and the ability to adapt to changing conditions. In a climate change context:
- Exposure is the degree to which a species, ecosystem or human community is exposed to climate changes (e.g. increasing temperature) and resulting physical changes (e.g. increases in storm surge or changes in precipitation).
- Sensitivity depends on characteristics of the system or species that make it more or less likely to be affected by expected climate impacts.
- Adaptive capacity is the ability of the systems or species to adjust to actual or expected impacts.
Greater exposure and sensitivity increase vulnerability, greater adaptive capacity decreases vulnerability.