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Socioeconomics, Policy, or Climate Change: What is Driving Vulnerability in Southern Portugal?

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Type: Journal Article
Author: Costa, María A. Máñez; Moors, Eddy J.; Fraser, Evan D.G.
Journal: Ecology and Society
Volume: 16
Date: 2011
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/7561
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Region: Europe
Subject(s): climate change
Abstract: "Although climate change models project that communities in southern Europe may be exposed to increasing drought in coming years, relatively little is known about how socioeconomic factors will exacerbate or reduce this problem. We assess how socioeconomic and policy changes have affected drought vulnerability in the Alentejo region of southern Portugal, where EU agricultural policy and the construction of a major dam have resulted in a shift from a land-extensive mixed agricultural system to the intensive production of irrigated grapes and olives. Following a dynamic systems approach, we use both published socioeconomic data and stakeholder interviews to present a narrative account of how this transition has increased the regions vulnerability to drought. To explore the assumptions made in the narrative, and to present different possible future scenarios, we create a dynamic systems model, the results of which suggest that socioeconomic drivers will play a more important role than projected rainfall changes in increasing vulnerability in the future."

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