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Profiling urban vulnerabilities to climate change: An indicator-based vulnerability assessment for European cities

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Carlos Tapia, Beñat Abajo, Efren Feliu, Maddalen Mendizabal, José Antonio Martínez, Germán Pérez, Txomin Laburu, Adelaida Lejarazu
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Governing climate change in cities entails a good understanding of urban vulnerabilities. This research presents an Indicator-based Vulnerability Assessment for 571 European cities. Basing on panel data from Urban Audit database and a set of newly developed indicators, we assessed urban vulnerabilities for the following impact chains: (i) heatwaves on human health; (ii) drought on water planning, and; (iii) flooding (sub-divided into pluvial, fluvial and coastal) on the socio-economic tissue and the urban fabric. Results shed light on the key challenges that specific groups of European cities face in order to better deal with the expected impacts of climate change. This knowledge is a necessary step to advance in the understanding of urban risks to climate change and the development of effective EU policies for urban adaptation.


  • The research has introduced an indicator-based vulnerability assessment to five climate threats for 571 European cities.
  • The sampled cities were bechmarked in a coherent, flexible, robust, scalable and transparent way.
  • The used method was systematically applied, without any substantial variation across cities and climate threats.
  • 61 sensitivity and adaptive capacity indicators have been used, including new proxies based on Big Data.
  • Relevant information towards a new-generation of urban adaptation policies at the EU level has been provided

Published on

Ecological Indicators Volume 78, July 2017, Pages 142–155