Vulnerability Assessment

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Pringle Hall building and trees during flood with water halfway up their height

On October 12, 2020 Salem City Council adopted a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal that calls for 50% reduction of GHG emissions by 2035 (based on 2016 levels) and for Salem to be carbon neutral by 2050. This bold and ambitious goal will guide the strategies that will be included in Salem’s Climate Action Plan in many ways. Along with strategies to reduce GHG emissions, it is important to include strategies that will reduce the impacts of climate change on all Salem residents and with a specific lens that looks at Salem’s vulnerable communities. Understanding the specific ways that Salem will be affected by the changing climate is a key component to building an effective Climate Action Plan. Identifying Salem’s risks and vulnerabilities will allow us to develop strategies that can make our community stronger and better prepared to withstand the impacts of a changing climate.

What have we learned?

We recently completed an assessment of how we may be vulnerable due to anticipated climate change. You can view highlights of the vulnerability assessment findings (En español).

As temperatures warm, more people are expected to experience heat-related illnesses, especially for those who work outside (e.g., farmworkers, construction workers, and field staff), are elderly or medically fragile, or are unsheltered.

This is especially true as days with temperatures of 90°F or higher are expected to increase by 26 days, from 7 days in the 1990s to 33 days in the 2050s.

Without changes, we will see increased need for shelters during heat, cold, or air quality events. While the growing season is lengthening, fewer chilling hours may have negative effects on some crops.

We'll see more risk of wildfires. Hotter and drier conditions may cause more frequent droughts, placing more strain on water resources. Residents could experience water cutbacks or water quality issues. With less predictability, we may see more people affected by flooding in areas outside the high-risk zone. We can expect the number of extreme wildfire danger days to nearly double by 2050, bringing with them associated hazardous air quality.

Intersections with Social Vulnerabilities

An important part of the vulnerability assessment process is to look at the existing social vulnerabilities in Salem and determine those who are most at risk, such as people who live with disabilities, people with limited financial resources, and people who are unsheltered. We need to think about how our community members with social vulnerabilities might be affected by Salem’s specific climate impacts. For example, people who are unsheltered may be more at risk of flooding in winter or heat-related illnesses as summer temperatures continue to rise.

More information

Conducting a climate vulnerability assessment is the second pillar of the Climate Action planning process. In this step, Verdis Group evaluated Salem’s climate risks using a methodology developed by the Climate Impacts Research Consortium at Oregon State University.

Stay tuned as we share more results from the vulnerability assessment.

On October 12, 2020 Salem City Council adopted a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction goal that calls for 50% reduction of GHG emissions by 2035 (based on 2016 levels) and for Salem to be carbon neutral by 2050. This bold and ambitious goal will guide the strategies that will be included in Salem’s Climate Action Plan in many ways. Along with strategies to reduce GHG emissions, it is important to include strategies that will reduce the impacts of climate change on all Salem residents and with a specific lens that looks at Salem’s vulnerable communities. Understanding the specific ways that Salem will be affected by the changing climate is a key component to building an effective Climate Action Plan. Identifying Salem’s risks and vulnerabilities will allow us to develop strategies that can make our community stronger and better prepared to withstand the impacts of a changing climate.

What have we learned?

We recently completed an assessment of how we may be vulnerable due to anticipated climate change. You can view highlights of the vulnerability assessment findings (En español).

As temperatures warm, more people are expected to experience heat-related illnesses, especially for those who work outside (e.g., farmworkers, construction workers, and field staff), are elderly or medically fragile, or are unsheltered.

This is especially true as days with temperatures of 90°F or higher are expected to increase by 26 days, from 7 days in the 1990s to 33 days in the 2050s.

Without changes, we will see increased need for shelters during heat, cold, or air quality events. While the growing season is lengthening, fewer chilling hours may have negative effects on some crops.

We'll see more risk of wildfires. Hotter and drier conditions may cause more frequent droughts, placing more strain on water resources. Residents could experience water cutbacks or water quality issues. With less predictability, we may see more people affected by flooding in areas outside the high-risk zone. We can expect the number of extreme wildfire danger days to nearly double by 2050, bringing with them associated hazardous air quality.

Intersections with Social Vulnerabilities

An important part of the vulnerability assessment process is to look at the existing social vulnerabilities in Salem and determine those who are most at risk, such as people who live with disabilities, people with limited financial resources, and people who are unsheltered. We need to think about how our community members with social vulnerabilities might be affected by Salem’s specific climate impacts. For example, people who are unsheltered may be more at risk of flooding in winter or heat-related illnesses as summer temperatures continue to rise.

More information

Conducting a climate vulnerability assessment is the second pillar of the Climate Action planning process. In this step, Verdis Group evaluated Salem’s climate risks using a methodology developed by the Climate Impacts Research Consortium at Oregon State University.

Stay tuned as we share more results from the vulnerability assessment.

Page last updated: 12 February 2021, 13:35