Federal Coordinating Lead Author:
David Reidmiller, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Lead Author:
Christopher W. Avery, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Contributing Authors:
Michael Kolian, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Kenneth E. Kunkel, North Carolina State University
David Herring, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Reid Sherman, U.S. Global Change Research Program/Straughan Environmental
William V. Sweet, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Kathryn Tipton, U.S. Global Change Research Program/ICF
Christopher Weaver, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Data Tools and Scenarios Products

In NCA3, authors used case studies to highlight specific examples of work being done by regions, cities, and stakeholders throughout the United States. These case studies formed some of the basis for the development of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit (CRT).

The CRT is a free, open-source website (https://toolkit.climate.gov/) designed to help communities and businesses build resilience to climate-related impacts and extreme events. Its primary target audience is applied professionals—including city planners, resource managers, policy leaders, facility managers, analysts, and consultants—who oversee or help guide the development and implementation of climate adaptation plans. The site is easily understandable and is also accessible to the general public, a secondary target audience.

Published in November 2014, the CRT was developed as an interagency partnership under the auspices of the USGCRP. Hosted and managed by NOAA, it is a web-based framework that aggregates and contextualizes scientific information, tools, and expertise to help people

  1. make and implement climate adaptation plans;

  2. explore how climate conditions are changing in their location and understand how their valued assets are, or may be, impacted;

  3. learn what others are doing to address climate-related challenges similar to the ones they face; and

  4. learn about funding sources that can help in disaster recovery and/or to mitigate future risks.

Case studies (https://toolkit.climate.gov/#case-studies) have also been incorporated as a feature of NCA4, and some of those studies will be incorporated into the CRT in the future.

Steps to Resilience

The CRT’s “Steps to Resilience” is the site’s centerpiece (https://toolkit.climate.gov/#steps). It is a five-step, iterative risk-management framework that integrates a range of different content types into topical, geographical, and purposeful frames of reference.

This framework guides users through a deliberative process whereby they can access, explore, discuss, co-produce, and integrate information to build shared mental models as they address several fundamental questions:

  1. Do climate-related hazards threaten assets we value?

  2. If so, what is the risk, and are we willing to tolerate that level of risk?

  3. If the risk is intolerable, what options exist to reduce or eliminate the risk?

  4. Which options are viable and affordable, and in what priority order might we pursue them?

  5. How will we plan and implement particular actions?

To help users answer these questions, the Toolkit offers plain language narratives—excerpted from the NCAs and other authoritative sources—that summarize ways that U.S. sectors, regions, and built and natural environments are vulnerable to, and have been impacted by, climate and non-climate stressors. These narratives are cross-linked with over 110 real-world case studies, from across the United States and its territories, highlighting people in communities and businesses who have successfully taken action to manage their climate risks. Additionally, the site’s narratives and case studies are cross-linked with science-based decision-support tools to illustrate how people have used those tools to plan and build resilience.

CRT Tools and the Climate Explorer

The CRT’s “Tools” compendium (https://toolkit.climate.gov/tools) has more than 400 decision-support tools offering a wide range of functions, such as helping people identify their vulnerabilities, view past and present climate conditions, download and analyze data, engage and communicate, check applied forecasts, find adaptation planning support, recover and rebuild from a disaster, and visualize climate projections.

The “Climate Explorer” (https://toolkit.climate.gov/#climate-explorer) is the CRT’s featured tool for visualizing climate projections. Maps and graphs are available for 20 decision-relevant variables (such as temperature, precipitation, and heating- and cooling-degree days) for every county in the contiguous United States. Users can compare observed historical data to hindcasts (a method of testing a model for future events by comparing predictions of past events to known data) for the 1950–2006 period, and they can explore the projected rates and magnitudes of change in two future scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) from 2006-2100.

Climate Explorer version 2.6, published in May 2018, features these improvements:

  • replaced the Bias Corrected Constructed Analogs (BCCA) with the LOcalized Constructed Analogs (LOCA) projection dataset, to align with the NCA4;
  • added about 90 tidal stations charting both historical observed and future projected annual number of days with high tide flooding;
  • enabled users to visually compare future projections to observed historical maps (1961–1990);
  • added a new module enabling users to select specific thresholds for select locations to produce annual counts of observed threshold exceedance over time; and
  • transitioned the tool’s map library from OpenLayers to the ArcGIS Javascript library to make it interoperable with Esri’s “ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World.”

The CRT evolved and expanded in 2017 to include regional sections, enhancements to link more closely with the Steps to Resilience, and an expanded menu of climate variables offered in the Climate Explorer.

Table A3.2: Climate Resilience Toolkit Case Study Categories

Climate Threat/Stressors Topics Resilience Steps Regions
  • Sea level rise, storm surge, and coastal flooding
  • Drought
  • Extreme precipitation
  • General climate change
  • Extreme events
  • Increased temperatures
  • El Niño, La Niña, and climate variability
  • Flooding
  • Changes in growing seasons
  • Changing ocean conditions
  • Reduced sea ice, permafrost, and snow
  • Temperature extremes
  • Coasts
  • Built environment
  • Water
  • Ecosystems
  • Health
  • Food
  • Tribal nations
  • Marine
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  1. Explore climate threats
  2. Assess vulnerability and risks
  3. Investigate options
  4. Prioritize actions
  5. Take action
  • Southwest
  • Northeast
  • Southeast
  • Midwest
  • Alaska
  • Northwest
  • Hawai‘i and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islands
  • Great Plains
  • International
  • National
Table A3.2. The CRT contains over 140 case studies, which users can quickly filter to locate a story of interest using the menu filters listed above.

Table A3.3: Climate Resilience Toolkit Decision Support Tools

Topic Tool Function
  • Coasts
  • Built environment
  • Water
  • Ecosystems
  • Health
  • Food
  • Tribal nations
  • Marine
  • Energy
  • Transportation
  • Identify vulnerabilities
  • View past and current conditions
  • Analyze and download data
  • Engage and communicate
  • Find adaptation planning support
  • Check applied forecasts
  • Recover and rebuild
  • Visualize climate projections
Table A3.3: The CRT contains over 400 decision support tools, and users can filter by topic, function, U.S. region, and the Steps to Resilience.

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