Climate Change and Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework

Created: 9/29/2017 - Updated: 2/27/2020


The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA's) Climate Change & Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessment Framework is a guide and collection of resources for use in analyzing the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on transportation infrastructure. Its purpose is to identify key considerations, questions, and resources that can be used to design and implement a climate change vulnerability assessment. The processes, lessons learned, and resources outlined in the framework are geared toward state departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), and other agencies involved in planning, building, or maintaining the transportation system. It includes suggestions and examples applicable to a wide range of applications, from small qualitative studies to large, detailed, data-intensive analyses. The resources included in the framework will be added to and updated over time.

The framework guides development of a vulnerability assessment from defining the scope of the project to integrating information into decision making.

The vulnerability assessment framework consists of three primary components:

  1. Defining objectives and scope: This section provides suggestions and resources for articulating objectives, selecting and characterizing relevant assets, and identifying climate variables for study.
  2. Assessing vulnerability: In this section, practitioners begin to assess the vulnerability of their assets. The form, level of effort, and detail of the vulnerability assessment will vary based on the identified objectives, goals, and other factors.
  3. Integrating vulnerability into decision making: Finally, this section reminds study participants to consider how to address identified vulnerabilities and to ensure that study results are used in practice.


The mission of the Department is to serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.


Sector Addressed
Land Use Planning
Transportation / Infrastructure
Type of Tool
Adaptation Planning / Decision Support
Adaptation Planning Frameworks / Toolkits
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Infrastructure, Planning, and Development
Make infrastructure resistant or resilient to climate change