Seattle Climate Vulnerability Assessment

Cascadia led a Climate Vulnerability Assessment (CVA) for the City of Seattle, which was published in summer 2023. To understand the myriad of ways that climate change affects the City and its residents, the CVA included three distinct vulnerability elements: social and economic vulnerability, physical vulnerability, and compounding and cascading impacts.

To assess social and economic vulnerability Cascadia developed an approach to assess social, health, and economic vulnerability to climate change at the census tract level—giving City decision-makers a detailed look into distributional burden of climate impacts across the City.

The physical vulnerability assessment determined how various assets—such as parks, critical facilities, transportation assets, energy assets, and water infrastructure—were at risk to flooding, extreme heat, wildfires, and wildfire smoke.

The compounding and cascading impacts assessment outlined how climate change impacts are interrelated and how they can: 1) compound and worsen climate and non-climate burdens and 2) cascade across systems in unexpected ways. ​For example, simultaneous stressors in 2021 from the heat dome event and the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the use of traditional mechanisms—such as cooling centers—to cope with extreme heat.

The results of these assessments will not only inform the policies included in the City’s Comprehensive Plan update, but also provide a clear and thorough dataset from which the City can make important climate adaptation and resilience policy decisions. We're excited to have supported this important and necessary effort that will set the City of Seattle on a path towards sustainability and resilience.

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