Authors: Binita KC, Travis Rael, Tiffany Webb, Elinor Crook, Claire Herdy, Eliza Shrestha, Florencia Tuladhar, Laxmi Thapa
Mentors/Advisors (affiliation): Sebastian Wesselman (International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development), Dr. Jeff Luvall (Marshall Space Flight Center, Global Hydrology and Climate Center)
Team Location: Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama; and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Kathmandu, Nepal
Abstract: The main objective of this study is to develop a vulnerability index at district level in Nepal by combining biophysical and social data. In general, vulnerability is expressed as a function of the exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity of a region to climate change effects, especially natural disasters. However to develop our index, we incorporated not only the frequency and intensity of extreme events such as floods, drought conditions, and natural disasters, but also the gradual changes in mean temperature and precipitation. The assessment was carried out from the 1980s until 2010 through decadal intervals. We leveraged the use of NASA climate and land cover datasets to advance the climate change portion of the vulnerability assessment. Specifically, changes in temperature and precipitation were measured using NASA’s Global Land Data Assimilation Systems (GLDAS) and Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) datasets, respectively. The data gaps were filled with the weather station data from the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology in Nepal. Land cover change was measured using NASA’s Landsat 4, 5, and 7 images. We obtained and incorporated social data from International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the government of Nepal in order to measure the effects of extreme events in the past on the people and the environment. In addition, we used the Normalized Differential Vegetation Index (NDVI) from the MODIS sensor as proxy for measuring drought conditions. Mapping vulnerability patterns across space and time helps to identify socially and biophysically vulnerable areas and hence guides efforts toward planning climate change adaptation strategies.
Transcript available here.