Vulnerability to climate change can be exacerbated by the presence of other stresses

Non-climate stresses can increase vulnerability to climate change by reducing resilience and can also reduce adaptive capacity because of resource deployment to competing needs. For example, current stresses on some coral reefs include marine pollution and chemical runoff from agriculture as well as increases in water temperature and ocean acidification. Vulnerable regions face multiple stresses that affect their exposure and sensitivity as well as their capacity to adapt. These stresses arise from, for example, current climate hazards, poverty and unequal access to resources, food insecurity, trends in economic globalisation, conflict, and incidence of disease such as HIV/AIDS [7.4, 8.3, 17.3, 20.3].

Climate change itself can produce its own set of multiple stresses in some locations because the physical manifestations of the impacts of climate change are so diverse [9.4.8]. For example, more variable rainfall implies more frequent droughts and more frequent episodes of intense rainfall, whilst sea-level rise may bring coastal flooding to areas already experiencing more frequent wind storm. In such cases, total vulnerability to climate change is greater than the sum of the vulnerabilities to specific impacts considered one at a time in isolation (very high confidence) [20.7.2].

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