Climate and Health Vulnerability Assessments


Climate and Health Vulnerability Assessments

The vulnerability assessments examine specific climate impacts and the corresponding health effects they have on individuals. They identify which communities in Harris County are vulnerable, allowing HCPH to concentrate public health interventions such as community outreach, cooling center placement and/or nature-based solutions, in areas that need them most. The assessments can be utilized by HCPH and other organizations to provide a data-driven approach to climate change and health resilience efforts.

The assessments combine health, economic, governmental, community and environmental indicators together to create a vulnerability score for each census tract. The vulnerability score allows comparison of different areas to one another. The indicators are separated into three different categories: exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity.

What is Vulnerability?

Climate and health literature defines vulnerability as the likelihood of being susceptible to injury, damage, or harm.

Vulnerability Assessments overlay measures of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity to identify locations within Harris County that are most adversely affected by climate change.

Exposure + Sensitivity - Adaptive Capacity = Vulnerability
  • Exposure quantifies how much or how little individuals, communities, and populations experience a certain hazard.
  • Sensitivity refers to the physiological, socio-economic, and community design factors that increase susceptibility to climate impacts.
  • Adaptive capacity is an evaluation of the ability to adjust, limit and cope with potential hazards or exposures.

Explore Assessments

Extreme Heat and Health Vulnerability Assessment

The Extreme Heat Vulnerability Assessment is the first of several climate vulnerability assessments the Climate Program has planned. The score assigned to each census tract is calculated using sixteen different indicators. A combination of these categories, using the equation above, calculates the overall vulnerability score. For more in-depth explanation of the vulnerability assessment see the Story Map.


Click HERE for an interactive look at all the indicators.

Air Quality and Health Vulnerability Assessment

The air quality and health vulnerability assessment was conducted using the sixteen different indicators below. The story map provides information about the assessment process and demonstrates how the different categories come together to create this Air Quality and health assessment.


Click HERE for an interactive look at all the indicators

Flooding and Health Vulnerability Assessment

More information coming 2021.

Additional Assessment Information
  • This assessment relies on several indicators from a robust set of sources with varying levels of detail. The indicators page provides an in-depth explanation of each indicator, including why the indicator is important for health, references, data sources, and limitations.
  • For more details about the methods used to create this vulnerability assessment see the methods documents.
  • This assessment will be updated as new data becomes available.

Thank you to the HCPH GIS Team, Harris County Appraisal District, Dr. Stephen Linder, and the Health of Houston Survey for providing their expertise and sharing valuable data. This assessment would not be possible without their contributions.