Where Is your city most vulnerable? This new tool can show you.

Researchers at the University of Notre Dame have launched the Urban Adaptation Assessment (UAA) https://gain-uaa.nd.edu/, a free measurement and analysis tool that examines a city’s adaptability to climate change and explores the connection between vulnerabilities to climate disasters, adaptive capacities and how these are distributed within a city.

Funded by the Kresge Foundation, the UAA is built upon the University’s annual Country Index and now includes a rich dataset accumulated from over two years of research with more than 270 cities in the United States, including all 50 states and Puerto Rico, whose populations are above 100,000.

The UAA is an interactive visual platform designed with city officials and sustainability leaders in mind, empowering them with the necessary information, data, and statistics to evaluate climate risks and readiness for their relative cities and how best to adapt and prepare.

Whether on a city level or by census tract, the UAA is powerful enough to analyze the equity of city policies; this gives users the data to help them make decisions on how best for their cities to adapt and prepare. For the climate-related hazards of extreme heat, extreme cold, flooding, and drought, the UAA is able to show the projected cost and probability In 2040.

Lauren Faber, Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Los Angeles relies on reliable data and says that the UAA is a useful and needed tool for cities prioritize adaptation planning.

“Pilot results for Los Angeles provided a helpful snapshot of our vulnerability and adaptability to potential climate change hazards, helping to highlight areas where we should focus resiliency planning efforts, as well as a means to evaluate current efforts,” she said.

The UAA’s social equity analysis captures and allows exploration of, potential inequities within a city, catalyzing conversation around and implementation of more inclusive adaptation options for all residents.

Additional features include:

●      Risk and readiness scores for each city in the event of flooding, extreme heat, extreme cold, sea-level rise, and drought.

●      Projected cost and probability of climate-related hazards in 2040.

●      Assessment of risks due to climate-related hazards.

●      Evaluations of readiness to implement adaptation measures.

The above features are critical to city decision makers nationally, whose communities are already facing increased climate-related threats including hurricanes that bring record levels of flooding, or more intense summer heat waves. Watch the video below to explore the UAA’s approach to city and sub-city data.

[Check out this great how to video] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eDjr0NDCZVo 

Whether on a city level or by census tract, the UAA is powerful enough to analyze the equity of city policies; this gives users the data they need to help make decisions on how best for their cities to adapt and prepare.


For example, a community leader interested in flood risk might ask, “What’s the flood going to cost our city?” The UAA can be used to determine not only what to focus funds, but where.

If the best-case scenario is to redistribute resources from the wealthier side of town to the less wealthy side of town, the UAA has the data and reasoning behind why such a method might be necessary. With the UAA, a community leader can use the data to show that distributing in certain places will give the most value in terms of spending.

The UAA provides a detailed visualization of the distribution of adaptive capacities and social variables with the objective of exploring potential inequities that exist at the sub-city level (i.e.census-tract), painting a vivid visual of social inequities that lie within a city’s boundaries in relation to the adaptation measures. The UAA is one of the first climate tool available that shows social vulnerabilities at the neighborhood level.

Understanding how best a city to adapt to a changing climate can be daunting. The UAA is easy to use and gives users data to see their city’s risk and readiness in seconds. The tool is accompanied by tutorials and methodology documents to help users get the most out of the data available. With the robust UAA data, community leaders, sustainability officers, and city representatives can determine what the highest priorities are, and better advocate on behalf of needed resources to prepare their city for a changing climate.