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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool (CVAT)

Community Vulnerability Assessment Tool (CVAT) supports the linking of environmental, social and economic data in the coastal zone. It is a static GIS map overlay procedure that enables a relative risk or vulnerability analysis of coastal communities to a series of existing threats. The CVAT procedure comprises 7 steps:

  1. Hazard identification and prioritisation;
  2. Hazard analysis;
  3. Critical Facilities analysis;
  4. Social analysis;
  5. Economic analysis;
  6. Environmental analysis;
  7. Mitigation opportunities analysis.

A CD-ROM provides a step-by-step guide for conducting community-wide risk and vulnerability assessments. It also provides an illustrative case study demonstrating the process for analysing physical, social, economic and environmental vulnerability to hazards at the local level. It contains a detailed case study on New Hanover county, North Carolina, which illustrates the use of the Community Vulnerability Methodology Assessment methodology in a specific community.

Appropriate Use Used to conduct a community vulnerability assessment to a range of hazards (not specifically addressing climate change).
Scale The assessment focuses on the community level.
Key Output Relative risk or vulnerability analysis of coastal communities to a series of existing threats.
Key Input Environmental, social and economic data for the coastal zone in GIS format.
Ease of Use The CD-ROM is relatively easy to use.
Training Required It provides a framework for vulnerability and risk assessment, which allows communities to carry out the assessment. CVAT is most useful for people who wish to gain an understanding of how to conceptualise community vulnerability.
Training Available

The NOAA coastal services offers training on how to do a risk and vulnerability assessment. More information on this training is available  at:

Computer Requirements The following options are available for using the information on the CD-ROM (1) Web-Browser for viewing text, images, and static maps and (2) ArcExplorer GIS Data Explorer (free software included). ArcView GIS (ArcView 3.0 or higher required to interact with one component of the case study on the CD-ROM).
Documentation See below for contacts. The CD-ROM contains a number of tutorials designed to assist in hazard planning activities. These tutorials include vulnerability assessment tutorials, LIDAR tutorials and extensions and damage assessment tool tutorial.
International Studies

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center (CSC) (1997, 1999), Albury (2004), Clark et al. (1998), Cutter (1996), Cutter et al. (2000, 2003), Emrich (2000), Morrow (1999).

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

Tashya Allen, Cindy Fowler

NOAA Coastal Services Center, 2234 South Hobson Avenue, Charleston, South Carolina 29405-2413.e-mail: 2413.e-mail: To receive a copy of the CD-ROM or any assistance please contact : and

Cost There is no cost for the CD-ROM (File size: 0.3MB).

The CVAT tool would require customising to a given environment where there is a different suite of hazards and access to appropriate data is not as centralised.