PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2005, Vol. 24 ›› Issue (1): 61-69.doi: 10.11820/dlkxjz.2005.01.007

• Original Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

An Overview of Assessment of Ecosystem Vulnerability to Climate Change

YU Li1,2, CAO Mingkui1, LI Kerang1   

  1. 1. Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, CAS, Beijing 100101, China;
    2. Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100039, China
  • Received:2004-05-01 Revised:2005-01-01 Online:2005-01-25 Published:2005-01-25


Assessment of ecosystem vulnerability to climate change is imperative as the rate of global climate change is increasing substantially. The ecosystem vulnerability assessment is to identify how the ecosystems respond to climate change, which ecosystems are most at risk, and above which climate threshold ecosystem degradation will occur. Because of the complexities of climate and ecosystem processes and uncertainties in climate change, it is difficult to quantitatively describe and predict ecosystem vulnerability to climate change. In this paper, we reviewed results of the major studies on ecosystems vulnerabilities to climate change in recent decade, and found that many ecosystems, especially natural ecosystems, would become more vulnerable to the predicted future climate change. We also gave a synthetic analysis of methodologies used in vulnerability assessment, and introduced the three major methods that are commonly used: process modeling, assessment with indicators, and threshold of vulnerability. Finally, we overviewed the development of the vulnerability assessment in the future.

Key words: assessment, Climate change, ecosystem vulnerability