How Vulnerable are You?


Port Heiden erosion near Goldfish Lake. This image was taken in spring 2018. The erosion breached the lake in late 2019.

Learn how your community is vulnerable to climate change impacts, so that you can prepare appropriately. You can do this by completing a Vulnerability Assessment and/or by participating in Scenario Planning exercises.

Types of vulnerability

Exposure is the presence of a climate change impact, such as thawing permafrost, in a community.

Sensitivity is the degree to which one is affected by the effects of climate change. Example: a village with many buildings on top of permafrost is more sensitive to thawing permafrost than a village that has fewer buildings atop permafrost.

Adaptive capacity is the ability to adjust to the effects of climate change. Proactive leadership, community involvement, funding, and technical resources contribute to a community’s adaptive capacity.

Resources for assessing vulnerability

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for the Chugach National Forest and Kenai Peninsula

Evaluates the effects of future climate change on a select set of ecological systems and ecosystem services in the Kenai Peninsula and Chugach National Forest.

National Climate Assessment: Alaska Region

Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the nation, bringing widespread impacts. Explore how climate change is affecting Alaska.

Native Voices from the Frontlines of Climate Change

An online video library focused on climate change, its impacts to Savoonga and Shaktoolik, as well as their response strategies.

Port Heiden Vulnerability Assessment

A vulnerability assessment developed from a One Health perspective.

USFS Climate Change Assessment – Alaska Region

Summarizes potential impacts that are likely from predicted climate change in southern Alaska.

The Village of Shishmaref is especially vulnerable to sea level rise and coastal erosion.

Seek out data and expertise with scenario planning

Scenario planning is a planning tool that accounts for the uncertainty of climate change by including a range of possible outcomes for the future.

Scenario planning allows communities and resource managers to answer “what if?” questions, thinking beyond historical trends and planning for unprecedented changes that require innovative management.

Scenario planning example

A community that depends on salmon for subsistence may envision a future where warmer ocean temperatures result in a smaller salmon harvest. How will the community adapt so that residents have enough food? Reduced snowpack could impact salmon systems as well as available water for communities. Higher temperatures could lead to a need for upgraded housing stock in a small community.

In a scenario planning exercise, community members and decision-makers can discuss adaptation options including potential monitoring, existing data, as well as decision support tools that are available.

Resources for accessing data and expertise

Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy

Science, decision support, and capacity building for climate resilience in Alaska.

Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center

Provides managers with scientific information, tools, and techniques that managers and others interested in land, water, wildlife and cultural resources can use to anticipate, monitor and adapt to climate change. 

Alaska Climate Resilience

Alaskans have been working in diverse arenas to reach common goals of ensuring economic opportunity, health, and safety for everyone in Alaska—now, and in the years to come—as our environment continues to change. Learn how the State of Alaska is working to increase resilience.

Alaska Forestry Sciences Laboratory

Works with partners to collect forest survey data from remote sensing systems, including satellites and high-altitude aerial photography.

Alaska Online Aquatic Temperature Site

A comprehensive statewide inventory of current and historic continuous monitoring locations for stream and lake temperature.

Center for Environmentally Threatened Communities

Supports rural Alaska communities experiencing infrastructure impacts resulting from flooding, erosion, and thawing permafrost.

Community Based Methods for Monitoring Coastal Erosion

Guide for designing and installing erosion monitoring systems, with tips for selecting monitoring sites, instructions for site installation and data collection, and lists of necessary materials.

Community Partnerships for Self-Reliance

Works with UAF researchers to support rural Alaska communities in long-term self-reliance and sustainability through community-driven research.

Drought and Extreme Weather Events in SE Alaska Workshop: List of Presentations and Speakers

List of presentations, speakers, and links from the Drought and Extreme Events in Southeast Alaska Workshop

Environmental Health Field Services

Works with Tribal partners and communities to prevent the spread of disease and protect the health of Alaska Native people.

Scenarios Network for Alaska + Arctic Planning

Uses climate data to create and share ideas of what a future Northern climate could look like.

USGS Alaska Science Center and Portal

Provides data, information, and research findings to support sound decision-making in Alaska and circumpolar regions. The Alaska Science Portal provides information for over 200 USGS research topics in Alaska.