How to conduct a climate change risk assessment

One of the tasks of the Project Klimada 2.0 is to conduct climate change risk assessment with the special focus on climate change impacts on the economy, society and environment. As a result, climate-related risks and factors are visualized in maps. The assessments carried out concern in the main the following sectors: public health, agriculture, forestry, water management, energy, transport, tourism, and biodiversity.

The methodology used in the Project Klimada 2.0 was derived from the conceptual framework of the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).[1] Accordingly, climate change-related risk results from the interaction of the following concepts:

  • Hazards – refer to climate-related events with negative impacts on the sectors (or their components) and are characterized by specific indicators developed in climate scenarios.
  • Vulnerability – refers to the ability of the sectors (or their components) to respond to climate change hazards. Vulnerability encompasses the indicators of certain factors that determine a degree of the sectors’ responsiveness (sensitivity) to impacts related to climatic hazards, as well as resources that can be used to mitigate the aforesaid impacts (adaptive potential).
  • Exposure – described by the indicators of the presence of specific items within the sectors (or their components) that could be adversely affected by climate-related events.



In further analyses, weight is given to the indicators of hazards, vulnerability and exposure, depending on the importance of a given indicator in the assessment of a specific case, e.g.: the indicator: tropical nights (the number of days with minimum temperature > 20°C in a year) is given more weight in the assessment of heat-related risks than the indicator: hot days (the number of days with maximum temperature > 25°C in a year), because the population is more vulnerable to nocturnal thermal stress. The value of each indicator is determined  using the five-step scale. Giving the weights to the indicators in each of the three above listed risk aspects as well as rating indicator values allow for making use of the disparate numbers of indicators (standardization), and at the same time, gives the possibility to take into account quality indicators. Based on the indicators.,the risk index is calculated for any spatial unit located in the analyzed sector (e.g.: an administrative unit or environmental area ).

The above risk assessment method was also applied in the Project “Let’s Feel the Climate”. Then, there were developed risk maps for the most climate change vulnerable sectors in selected Poland’s cities – the Project Partners. On the scale of each city, the spatial units under the analysis were the areas specified based on the characteristics of their climate change sensitivity, pertinent to spatial planning and population [2]. The climate change-related risks with reference to the sectors and climatic factors were identified  for each of the analyzed areas. The sample maps show spatial distribution of:

  • heat-related risks to population of the city of Białystok (fig. 1)
  • rainfall-related risks to water management in the city of Białystok (fig. 2)

The risk assessment method used in Klimada 2.0 was presented at the Conference launching the Project  (download presentations)

Under Klimada 2.0 framework, climate change-risk maps have been developed with the use of climate data (climate scenarios) as well as data on the sectors. Currently, case studies are prepared that will enable to select correct and reliable risk assessment indicators for individual sectors. A final choice of the sectors will be made during workshops organized with participation of relevant stakeholders. Risk maps will be gradually posted on Klimada 2.0  website until mid-2020. The risk assessment indicators and maps will be used in economic assessments and to plan adaptation measures.


Małgorzata Hajto and Krzysztof Skotak (IOŚ-PIB)


[1] IPCC, 2014b. In: Field, C.B., Barros, V.R., Dokken, D.J., Mach, K.J., Mastrandrea, M.D., Bilir, T.E., Chatterjee, M., Ebi, K.L., Estrada, Y.O., Genova, R.C., Girma, B., Kissel, E.S., Levy, A.N., MacCracken, S., Mastrandrea, P.R., White, L.L. (Eds.), Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Part A: Global and Sectoral Aspects. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom and New York, NY, USA, 1132 pp.

[2] Cichocki Z, Hajto M, Romańczak A, Sadowski M. 2016. Wrażliwość miasta Kalisza na zmiany klimatu – studium przypadku. Inżynieria Ekologiczna 49:8-24