Research Methods

To begin the community assessments we reviewed the relevant literature and secondary sources. This included the systematic compilation of existing climate, hydrological, demographic, and economic data. In the first phase of our field research we used a "rapid ethnographic assessment" technique. It was initiated through a series of concentrated site visits by the research team to conduct open-ended interviews with officials and representatives of the community. Snowball sampling techniques were used to identify potential informants representing key economic and public service sectors. In-depth interviews were conducted with representative stakeholders. These were semi structured and covered topics that included the stakeholders' occupational history, household economic profile, schedule of yearly activities as they relate to climate, perceptions of climate change and use of climate forecasting. We also conducted focus group discussions and gather oral histories to document the process of climate buffering. The second phase of our research referred to the creation of community/CLIMAS partnerships through climate forecast meetings with stakeholders and representatives of the climatology and hydrology components of the project. Once we understood the range of vulnerabilities based on our community case studies, we proceeded to the third phase our assessment work. This consisted of defining a set of critical indicators to characterize community vulnerability. These formed the basis for the creation of a GIS-based vulnerability database and map that allows classification of vulnerability by geographical area across the Southwestern region.