Disputation: Lynn D. Rosentrater

Master of Science in Geography Lynn D. Rosentrater will be defending her dissertation for the degree of Ph.D. (philosophiae doctor) at the Department of Sociology and Human Geography.

Adaptation to Climate Change: Understanding the Contingent Nature of Spatial Vulnerability Assessments

Lynn D. Rosentrater

Time and place for the trial lecture:

Time: 8th September 2016 09.15 AM

Place: Auditorium 2, Eilert Sundts Building

Title: Supporting adaptation to Climate Change – what role for GIS?


Adjudication committee:

  • Senior lecturer Sarah Lindley, School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester
  • Associate professor Julie Wilk, Department of Thematic Studies -Environmental Change, Linköping Universitet
  • Professor Terje Wessel, Department of Sociology and Human Geography, University of Oslo

Chair of Defense:

          Dean Nils-Henrik M. von der Fehr, Department of Economics, University of Oslo




Climate change presents new challenges that society must prepare for. For Norway, climate change means higher temperatures, increased rainfall and rising sea levels, changes that are leading to an increased frequency of extreme events that disrupt the normal functioning of daily life. Adapting to climate change has therefore become a priority in local and regional planning.

The impacts of climate change vary from place to place and can even fluctuate over time. To understand the potential harm associated with climate change planners typically rely on vulnerability assessments, which characterize climate-related impacts and the mechanisms that facilitate coping responses, thus providing the basis for identifying appropriate adaptation interventions.

A common approach to assessing vulnerability is through the use of maps. Vulnerability maps summarize important demographic, socioeconomic and environmental tends. They also give urgency to climate change by communicating at a glance where vulnerable areas and populations exist. Such maps are typically based on objective, externally measurable data, but how the user interprets vulnerability depends entirely on value-laden knowledge.

The research presented in this dissertation casts a critical eye on the data and methods used to map vulnerability. The questions addressed include: Which kinds of knowledge are legitimate for assessing vulnerability? What other ways of knowing are missing, yet important for understanding vulnerability? How does non-spatial information contribute to the mapping process? Answers to these questions illustrate how and why the processes that shape vulnerability are all too often ignored during adaptation planning.

The results presented suggest that in order to obtain a comprehensive mapping of vulnerability, highly contextual knowledge must augment systemic or rule-based knowledge. The dissertation discusses how vulnerability can be assessed through collaborative exercises that capture the negative outcomes associated with climate change, as well as how those outcomes are perceived and valued, in order to develop transformative responses that reduce risk and vulnerability.


Scientific abstract


For more information:

Contact Katalin Godberg




Publisert 29. juli 2016 13:25 - Sist endret 24. okt. 2017 09:33