219810 Vulnerability assessments as a public health response to climate change

Monday, November 8, 2010 : 5:10 PM - 5:30 PM

Natasha Prudent, MPH , National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chamblee, GA
Adele Houghton, AIA, LEED AP , Adele Houghton Consulting, LLC, Houston, TX
George Luber, PhD , National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chamblee, GA
Population vulnerability to climate change aligns with pre-existing societal inequalities. Vulnerable groups include the economically marginalized, children, the elderly, and minority communities. In addition to social components, aspects of the built environment like land use practices can further exacerbate the impacts of climate change, culminating in a place-based understanding of vulnerability. Several studies engage the concept of vulnerability mapping to climate hazards at state to regional scales; however few studies assess vulnerability at the local level. Measures of risk designed from a place-based model must downscale to the local level, where vulnerability is most pronounced and where effective interventions are often crafted. Using the City of Austin, Travis County, Texas as a case study, this project developed a vulnerability assessment to excessive heat and heavy rainfall-induced flash flood events, two climate hazards projected to increase in the future. The social/resiliency measures collected for flood and excessive heat vulnerabilities were identified in the literature and included measures of age, population density, social isolation, ethnic makeup, and sum of chronic disease deaths per block group area on days of exposure. Similarly, biophysical measures of vulnerability included surface temperature, precipitation and land use data. The project resulted in static vulnerability maps at the census block group scale that overlay onto a dynamic mapping server. The project provides near real-time decision support for the local health department and climate action program on current emergency preparedness efforts and future climate mitigation/adaptation initiatives which may impact community health.

Learning Areas:
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. List existing vulnerability studies related to flash floods and extreme heat. 2. Discuss methodology for developing local measures of vulnerability. 3. Describe the logistical components and applicability of overlaying a static map onto a larger dynamic map server.

Keywords: Climate Change, Vulnerable Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the primary researcher on this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.