The purpose of this paper is to characterize and locate populations vulnerable to climate change in the state of New Jersey. To do so, a quantitative study examined the demographic and location attributes of socially vulnerable groups and their relation to an environmental hazard associated with a changing climate, using flooding as an example of the potential risks posed to these groups. An earlier study with similar objectives was completed in December of 2013; the methodology that formed the basis of the original study has since been updated1 (Bickers, 2013; NOAA, 2014; Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute, 2013). While the updated data and method used for this revised analysis has not yielded substantially different findings, the December 2013 analyses is updated in this paper using the updated data and methodology.
Vulnerability has been described as the potential for loss (Cutter, 1996). It is often characterized by metrics of exposure, sensitivity, and the adaptive capacity of engineered and social systems to respond or recover from negative shocks or stressors (Adger, 2006). Social vulnerability specifically focuses on the vulnerability of a person or social group and the factors that contribute to this vulnerability. Such factors include age, ethnicity and race, gender, physical ability and health status, socioeconomic status, occupation, access to knowledge and information, and geographic location. These characteristics help to explain why different groups can experience the impact from a hazard event differently even when exposure levels are similar.