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A support system for assessing local vulnerability to weather and climate


The changing number and nature of weather- and climate-related natural hazards is causing more communities to need to assess their vulnerabilities. Vulnerability assessments, however, often require considerable expertise and resources that are not available or too expensive for many communities. To meet the need for an easy-to-use, cost-effective vulnerability assessment tool for communities, a prototype online vulnerability assessment support system was built and tested. This prototype tool guides users through a stakeholder-based vulnerability assessment that breaks the process into four easy-to-implement steps. Data sources are integrated in the online environment so that perceived risks—defined and prioritized qualitatively by users—can be compared and discussed against the impacts that past events have had on the community. The support system is limited in scope, and the locations of the case studies do not provide a sufficiently broad range of sample cases. The addition of more publically available hazard databases combined with future improvements in the support system architecture and software will expand opportunities for testing and fully implementing the support system.

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This work was developed under National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration, Climate Program Office, grant NA09OAR4310144. The lead author is particularly grateful to Michael Brewer, Art DeGaetano, and Chad McNutt for their encouragement and helpful discussions. Discussions with Harold Brooks at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, and with personnel at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, were particularly important for correctly framing the role of severe natural hazards and climate variation on the local scales into the VASS.

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Correspondence to Alex Coletti.

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Coletti, A., Howe, P.D., Yarnal, B. et al. A support system for assessing local vulnerability to weather and climate. Nat Hazards 65, 999–1008 (2013).

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