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Climate Research

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CR 21:299-310 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/cr021299

Processes of adaptation to climate variability: a case study from the US Southwest

Timothy J. Finan*, Colin Thor West, Diane Austin, Thomas McGuire

Emil Haury Anthropology Bldg, Rm 221A, The University of Arizona, PO Box 210030, Tucson, Arizona 85721-0030, USA

ABSTRACT: The nature of adaptation to climate variability in the Southwest US is explored using the Middle San Pedro River Valley in southern Arizona as a case study. An integrated vulnerability assessment focuses on the dynamic interaction of natural climatic and hydrological systems with socio-economic systems. This approach reveals that residents in the study region do not perceive short-term or long-term vulnerability to climate variability or climate change. The paper uses an ethnographic field approach to examine the technical and organizational factors that constitute the adaptation process and reduce vulnerability to climate in the valley. It concludes by discussing the potential dangers of ignoring climate in a rapidly growing, semi-arid environment.

KEY WORDS: Climate variability · Climate vulnerability · US Southwest · Livelihood · Adaptation

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