An Assessment Of Social And Physical Vulnerability To Hydroclimate Extremes

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Leah Hart Handwerger (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Margaret Sugg

Abstract: Appalachia is a culturally and economically distinct region in the southern and central Appalachian Mountains. Although the region receives consistent precipitation throughout the year, climate projections indicate that precipitation and drought variability will increase in both severity and frequency in future decades. This projection suggests that an increase in hydroclimate extremes will elevate the risk of experiencing natural hazards related to these events. Disadvantaged populations are most severely impacted by natural disasters, and Appalachia lags behind the nation in several social vulnerability indicators. The purpose of this study is to investigate the spatial patterns of drought and precipitation, and determine how these trends overlap with vulnerable communities across Appalachia. The study utilizes trend analysis through Mann-Kendall calculations and a Social Vulnerability Index, resulting in a bivariate map that displays areas most susceptible to adverse effects from hydroclimate extremes. Results show the southwestern portion of the region as most vulnerable to increased precipitation, and the central-southeast most vulnerable to an increase in drought-precipitation variability. This study is among the first to utilize the boundaries defined by the Appalachian Regional Commission from a climatological perspective, which will assist policymakers in designing more effective mitigation strategies that span from the local to federal levels.

Additional Information

Handwerger, L. (2021). An Assessment Of Social And Physical Vulnerability To Hydroclimate Extremes. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2021
PDSI, Drought, Precipitation, Social Vulnerability, Appalachia

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