The vulnerability assessments examine certain climate impacts and the corresponding health effects they have on communities. They identify which communities are most vulnerable, allowing HCPH to concentrate public health interventions (e.g. community outreach, cooling center placement and nature-based solutions) in areas that need them most. The assessments can be utilized by HCPH and other organizations to provide a data-driven approach to climate change and health resilience efforts.
The current vulnerability assessments are focused around extreme heat, flooding and air quality. In the future the focus will expand to include other climate concerns and explore the interactions between multiple climate impacts.
What is Vulnerability?
Climate and health literature defines vulnerability as the likelihood of being susceptible to injury, damage, or harm.
Vulnerability Assessments overlay measures of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity to identify locations within Harris County that are most adversely affected by climate change.
Exposure + Sensitivity - Adaptive Capacity = Vulnerability
- Exposure quantifies how much or how little individuals, communities, and populations experience a certain hazard.
- Sensitivity refers to the physiological, socio-economic, and community design factors that increase susceptibility to climate impacts.
- Adaptive capacity is an evaluation of the ability to adjust, limit and cope with potential hazards or exposures.