Illustrating the coupled human-environment system for vulnerability analysis: Three case studies

B. L. Turner, Pamela A. Matson, James J. McCarthy, Robert W. Corell, Lindsey Christensen, Noelle Eckley, Grete K. Hovelsrud-Broda, Jeanne X. Kasperson, Roger E. Kasperson, Amy Luers, Marybeth L. Martello, Svein Mathiesen, Rosamond Naylor, Colin Polsky, Alexander Pulsipher, Andrew Schiller, Henrik Selin, Nicholas Tyler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

484 Scopus citations


The vulnerability framework of the Research and Assessment Systems for Sustainability Program explicitly recognizes the coupled human-environment system and accounts for interactions in the coupling affecting the system's responses to hazards and its vulnerability. This paper illustrates the usefulness of the vulnerability framework through three case studies: the tropical southern Yucatán, the arid Yaqui Valley of northwest Mexico, and the pan-Arctic. Together, these examples illustrate the role of external forces in reshaping the systems in question and their vulnerability to environmental hazards, as well as the different capacities of stakeholders, based on their access to social and biophysical capital, to respond to the changes and hazards. The framework proves useful in directing attention to the interacting parts of the coupled system and helps identify gaps in information and understanding relevant to reducing vulnerability in the systems as a whole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8080-8085
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 8 2003
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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