Table 3. Framework for characterizing vulnerability for the Nu River case study of four proposed hydroelectric dams. Consistent with Füssel (2007), sphere is identified as internal or external depending on whether they are properties of the vulnerable system or are factors outside of that system, respectively.


Domain Vulnerability measure Description Relationship to dam as a stress Sphere
Biophysical Retention time Percent change in residence time of water through reservoir reach (units: %) Describes the hydrological sensitivity of the system to modified biogeochemical, temperature, and sediment regimes Internal
Landscape stability Depth and volume of reservoir; distance to active faults (units: seismic index) Describes the potential for dams to trigger seismic activity Internal
Habitat for sensitive species Amount of conservation land inundated (units: km²) Describes potential impacts on rare species or species of concern Internal
Geopolitical International institutional capacity Treaty coding for specific water management capacities and people in the basin (units: normalized score relative to other basins) Describes the capacity for the international political system of the basin to adapt to and recover from the stress of dam construction External
Hydro-political stability (international) International water event intensity scale (units: normalized score relative to other basins) Characterizes the stability of the international hydro-political system in the recent past External
Hydro-political stability (domestic) Domestic water event intensity scale (units: normalized score relative to other basins) Characterizes the stability of the domestic hydro-political system in the recent past Internal
Socioeconomic Income and wealth Household income and housing values compared to the watershed average (units: currency) Describes the economic conditions of potentially affected human populations Internal
Local culture Index of ethnic minorities as a percentage of the population; proportion of household heads with literacy in Chinese (units: %) Describes the cultural characteristics of potentially affected populations Internal
Social cohesion Index of community trust and cohesiveness; participation in village activities; borrowing and lending networks; labor sharing networks (units: %; score on five-point scale) Describes the social characteristics of potentially affected populations Internal