Assessment of composite index methods for agricultural vulnerability to climate change

J Environ Manage. 2015 Jun 1;156:70-80. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2015.03.020. Epub 2015 Mar 21.


A common way of quantifying and communicating climate vulnerability is to calculate composite indices from indicators, visualizing these as maps. Inherent methodological uncertainties in vulnerability assessments, however, require greater attention. This study examines Swedish agricultural vulnerability to climate change, the aim being to review various indicator approaches for assessing agricultural vulnerability to climate change and to evaluate differences in climate vulnerability depending on the weighting and summarizing methods. The reviewed methods are evaluated by being tested at the municipal level. Three weighting and summarizing methods, representative of climate vulnerability indices in general, are analysed. The results indicate that 34 of 36 method combinations differ significantly from each other. We argue that representing agricultural vulnerability in a single composite index might be insufficient to guide climate adaptation. We emphasize the need for further research into how to measure and visualize agricultural vulnerability and into how to communicate uncertainties in both data and methods.

Keywords: Agriculture; Climate vulnerability; Composite index; Regression analysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agriculture* / methods
  • Climate Change*
  • Humans
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Sweden