Weather extremes and street life in India: Implications of Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping as a new tool for semi-quantitative impact assessment and ranking of adaptation measures

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The potential impacts of progressing climate change are alarming. Some adverse consequences are now unavoidable and adaptation measures are increasingly needful. This poses enormous challenges for emerging megacities in the Global South, which barely manage in current weather conditions. This paper introduces Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping as a new tool for structured, semi-quantitative assessments of climate change impacts and adaptation measures.

Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping is used to evaluate differences in sensitivities to heatwaves and rainstorms across socio-economic groups and for the ranking of useful adaptation options, based on 188 individual interviews to the impacts of extreme weather events in Hyderabad, India. The results of this multi-stakeholder assessment indicate that rainstorms affect low-income residents more than heatwaves, while the opposite is true for medium-income respondents. The latter are also less seriously affected by extreme weather in general. Profession, though, not income determines the kind of impact that people feel most affected by. Individual characteristics like age and gender do not significantly explain differences in the data, but religion does. This is because, in Hyderabad, Muslims live in the older, less serviced and more affected parts of the city. However, semi-quantitative scenario analyses suggest that, under future climate change, many parts of the city will become increasingly exposed to the effects of extreme weather. Planned investments in urban infrastructure will be seriously challenged by climate change and preventive adaptation measures are urgently needed to at least maintain the current level of quality of life. Investments in the health infrastructure appear to be most effective in reducing the impact of heatwaves and investments in the traffic infrastructure most effective in reducing the impact of rainstorms. However, looking at heat and rain events together—which is realistic as they are both projected to increase and often occur in the same year—reveals that investments in water infrastructure and management have greatest potential to reduce impacts across all localities and on all social groups, particularly the lower-income classes. This is because first-order impacts caused by inadequate water infrastructure often give rise to second- or third-order impacts. Addressing the root cause is the most effective way to break cause-and-effect chains and prevent proliferation of negative consequences. Similar studies are suggested in other cities in order to support adaptation mainstreaming in complex urban environments. Fuzzy Cognitive Mapping proved a useful, semi-quantitative tool for climate change impact and adaptation assessments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalGlobal environmental change
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Climate change impacts
  • Ranking of adaptation options
  • Semi-quantitative assessment
  • Extreme weather events
  • Hyderabad
  • India
  • Fuzzy cognitive mapping


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