Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan

City of Sarasota | Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan

Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan

Planning for a More Resilient Infrastructure

When the City of Sarasota, Florida, decided to take proactive steps to better understand, assess and adapt to the potential impacts of climate change on their infrastructure, community and visitors, they asked HDR to help. Their goals were to develop a strategic adaptation plan that improved the City’s ability to adjust to future climate changes and remain a destination where people wanted to live, work, and visit. 

To determine the best approach, we conducted a comprehensive assessment of public infrastructure to identify system vulnerabilities to climate change and make informed decisions to adapt strategies for near- and long-term threats associated with those changes. Our work involved developing an infrastructure database to inventory public assets including water supply and wastewater, stormwater systems, transportation networks, coastal shorelines and waterways, parks and greenspace, and critical buildings. The vulnerability assessment to determine “at-risk” infrastructure used scoring methodologies and available climate modeling tools to understand how each of four climate variables – sea level rise, storm surge, extreme heat and extreme precipitation – might impact the City’s infrastructure. 

The analysis included a quantitative measure of risk based on climate model output associated with hydro-meteorological parameters within a geographical information system framework. The process produced gradients of threat to infrastructure through an impact ranking process to better understand risk and the likelihood that a climate variable would impact an asset. Through this GIS analysis, and active engagement with city managers and the public to understand their regional concerns, vulnerability outputs were produced for 220 assets. These were graphed then analyzed to prioritize the most vulnerable infrastructure assets to advance to the adaptation planning stage. 

As a modern coastal community with miles of tidally dynamic shorelines, this Adaptation Plan will help the City of Sarasota protect public health and safety by bolstering the resiliency of municipal infrastructure.  

“It’s been great working with HDR on the City of Sarasota’s Climate Adaptation Plan. Sherri Swanson, our HDR Project Manager, helped guide City staff through each step of the methodology and brought insight from global and national best practices while identifying adaptation strategies. The graphic design was beautiful and made the final product useful, yet accessible, to a variety of audiences. We are excited to build upon this plan and implement it through regional collaborations and within City administrative processes.” 

— Stevie Freeman-Montes, City of Sarasota Sustainability Manager

City of Sarasota | Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan