DEEP: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments
Once your community has made a commitment to climate change adaptation planning, the first major step in the process is to conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment. This step includes enhancing your understanding of climate change impacts, determining future threats, and assessing local sensitivity and adaptive capacity. Below are resources that can help your community complete this first formal step in the climate change adaptation planning process:
  • What is a Vulnerability Assessment?
  • Local Climate Impacts
  • Visualization and Risk Assessment Tools
  • Vulnerability Assessment Methods
  • Community Vulnerability Assessment Examples
  • Additional Resources
What is a Vulnerability Assessment?

The term “vulnerability” can mean different things depending on the context. In the context of climate change, vulnerability is the susceptibility of a system to harm from climate change impacts. Vulnerability can be broken down into three components: 1) exposure, 2) sensitivity and 3) adaptive capacity. Systems that are sensitive to climate and less able to adapt to changes are generally considered vulnerable to climate change impacts. The following sources provide additional information on vulnerability assessments in relationship to climate change:
Understanding Local Climate Impacts

Knowing how climate change could impact your community is a key piece of a vulnerability assessment. There are many ways to assess impacts in order to understand vulnerability. The information on current trends and projected scenarios below can help in conducting local vulnerability assessments:
Visualization and Risk Assessment Tools

Knowing how the climate is changing in your region is important; however, understanding how those changes could affect your community specifically is crucial for effective local adaptation planning. The following visualization and risk assessment tools can help to enhance knowledge on how climate change will be manifested at the local level.
Vulnerability Assessment Methods

Vulnerability assessments can be conducted in a variety of ways. The following guides provide information on methodologies:
Examples of Community Vulnerability Assessments

A growing number of communities in the Northeast and across the United States have conducted climate change vulnerability assessments. Here are a few vulnerability assessments that could serve as an example for your community:
Additional Resources
Content Last Updated November 2013