Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment

In addition to completing a greenhouse gas inventory, an assessment of climate risks and vulnerabilities is completed. The purpose of the Climate Risk and Vulnerability Assessment (CRVA) is to develop an understanding of the current and future climate risks facing the region to inform the inclusion of adaptation goals and actions in the Regional Climate Action Plan. The CRVA also helps to the stage for future community discussions as the goals and actions in the plan are refined and implemented.

This CRVA represents a high-level regionalscale assessment of risks and vulnerabilities. It is recommended in this plan that local governments
conduct more detailed assessments for their own


Understanding the natural hazards that pose the greatest risks to the Kansas City region is critical to discussions about  vulnerability and how plans support the region’s ability to adapt and stay resilient in the face of these hazards. In 2019, MARC began updating its Hazard Mitigation Plan for the Missouri counties in our region. The Hazard Mitigation Plan (2020) identifies those hazards that pose the greatest risk to our region: flooding, extreme heat (>105ºF), drought, severe thunderstorms, severe winter weather, and tornadoes. The plan also includes information on the experience of the community with these hazards, local government capabilities to address or reduce the risks, and goals and actions local jurisdictions are willing to take over the next 5 years.

Two additional hazard mitigation plans are available for the Kansas counties in the planning area: Douglas County Hazard Mitigation Plan and the Kansas Homeland Security Region L Hazard Mitigation Plan.


Risk Matrix

The risk level assigned to each hazard informs the prioritization of the most at-risk assets, systems, and groups. Risk is determined based on the probability and consequence of a particular hazard. For each hazard, a number is assigned to both probability and consequence and multiplied to assess the risk level. The following risk matrix summarizes the risk level for each hazard and how they compare to one another. Based on this methodology and information from the 2020 Hazard Mitigation Plan, the hazards with the highest level of risk for the region are flooding, heat, and drought, with flooding considered the greater risk as the region is already experiencing increased flooding events and associated damage. Severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, and winter weather have slightly lower risk levels but still are considered significant. For the purposes of the Climate Action Plan, more focus is given to adaptation strategies for flooding, heat, and drought

Vulnerability assessment

This assessment helps answer questions about where our most vulnerable communities exist in the region and the magnitude of social vulnerability, in general. The findings help inform planning, equity-focused engagement and relationship building, and where climate initiatives must be prioritized and targeted. In this assessment, several indicators are used to help pinpoint geographies of overlapping vulnerabilities related to climate change. The vulnerability maps are based on indicators specific to the priority hazards. More information about these chosen indicators can be found in the CRVA in the appendix. These maps explore social vulnerability, and vulnerability related to flooding, heat and urban heat island, and tornadoes.

Interactive map tool

This interactive map, which includes the vulnerability and neighborhoods layers, was created to support local government climate resilience initiatives.

Regional socioeconomic stress

Areas of socioeconomic stress were determined by factoring five vulnerability indicators into an index: non-white population, population below 200% of poverty, population under age 5, population over age 65, and renter-occupied housing. While there are many indicators of socioeconomic stress, this set of indicators is commonly used in vulnerability assessments and provides a solid foundation for understanding socioeconomic stress at a regional level. Local governments may want to add additional indicators based on local context. Within the planning area, 13% of the total population lives within census tracts that are considered “highest” or “high” in terms of socioeconomic stress. These census tracts are primarily located in the urban cores of Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri. However, there are portions of Shawnee, Kansas, and Lenexa, Kansas, along the I-35 corridor and Olathe, Kansas, and Lawrence, Kansas, that have socioeconomically stressed areas, as well.

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Population living in areas of socioeconomic stress

Flooding and socioeconomic stress

Comparing the 100- and 500-year floodplains to areas of high socioeconomic stress can highlight flood vulnerabilities and significant needs for intervention. There are few areas where socioeconomically stressed areas intersect floodplains.

However, these areas still warrant further exploration. In the snapshots below, the Centropolis neighborhood in Kansas City, Missouri, which is highly socioeconomically stressed, shows the 500-year floodplain (orange area) encroaching on residential housing. In the snapshot showing the City of Edwardsville, Kansas, while considered low for socioeconomic stress, has significant vulnerabilities to 100- and 500-year flooding.

Tornado-related socioeconomic stress

Tornado vulnerability indicators focus on accessibility, housing density and protection, language and socio-demographics. Due to the distribution of multi-family housing, disabilities and older adults, tornado vulnerability is more widespread throughout the region. However, visually, it is apparent that tornado vulnerability is concentrated in the urban cores of Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri.

About 19% of the population lives in census tracts that are considered “highest” or “high” socioeconomically stressed.

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Population living in areas of tornado vulnerability

Summary of findings and recommendations