Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment

What is a Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment?

A vulnerability assessment is a structured process that identifies ways in which a community is susceptible to harm from climate threats. North Miami’s Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment (CCVA) utilizes science-driven data about climate threats from multiple sources, including the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). This scientific data is combined with information about the North Miami’s people, assets, and businesses to understand current and future challenges to long-term operability of the City. The CCVA provides the basis for the City to begin identifying strategies to build resilience and adapt to a changing climate.

How is Risk Determined?

Once the vulnerability is understood for each asset, the next step is to determine risk. Risk entails calculating the probability of an event and how at risk an asset is to a particular threat, in conjunction with the associated consequences of that event or hazard.

What is Adaptation and Adaptive Capacity?

Climate adaptation entails modifying an asset to be able to withstand current or future environmental conditions and be resilient against climate threats. Any adaptation action taken is appropriately tailored to each asset. Ranging from hardening an asset to relocating it, numerous efforts may be taken to protect an asset for the long-term. An asset’s adaptive capacity measures the extent to which an asset is able to change to reduce the risk of a threat.

Asset Example:

Two businesses, Business A and Business B, are on the same road. Business A has a park next to it and Business B sits right in the middle of a busy street. During a heavy rainstorm, Business A does not experience as severe of flooding as Business B because the park provides a place for water to run off to. Whereas, Business B is surrounded by impermeable concrete surfaces where water does not soak into the ground. Thus, Business A & B have the same exposure, but differ in vulnerability and risk.

North Miami City Hall


Rainfall-Induced Flooding

Rainfall-Induced Flooding

Flooding associated with rain events, such as thunderstorms, tropical systems, and cold fronts. Changes in rainfall patterns can cause downpours of rain in short periods of time which may create flooding hotspots in heavily developed areas with impervious surfaces. The frequency and intensity of these rainstorm events disrupt stormwater systems, mobility, viability and more. 
Storm Surge

Storm Surge

Hurricanes are inherently a part of every South Florida community. Storm surge is the abnormal rise in tide generated by a severe tropical storm or hurricane. Strong winds over the ocean drive water onshore which can lead to extensive property loss, damage coastal habitats and beaches and undermine the foundation of critical infrastructure like roads and utilities. Rising sea levels combined with the potential for stronger and more frequent storms in the future may cause flooding in areas that previously would not have experienced it.
Extreme Heat and the Urban Heat Island Effect

Extreme Heat and the Urban Heat Island Effect

Florida’s tropical climate, in conjunction with largely populated and developed areas, exacerbates the problem of extreme heat. Known as the Urban Heat Island Effect, this occurs when a metropolitan area experiences warmer temperatures than its surrounding environment due to the urban area’s ability to excessively trap and absorb heat.
Tidal Flooding and Sea Level Rise

Tidal Flooding and Sea Level Rise

Height of a daily tide varies seasonally and from year-to-year depending on relative position of the earth, sun and the moon, and ocean and wind currents. Seasonal high tides can cause sunny day flooding. As sea levels rise, so too do tides, exacerbating flooding in low-lying coastal areas. Future sea level projections indicate 1-3 ft of sea level rise within the next few decades which will continue to increase the severity and frequency of future tidal flooding. Due to South Florida’s porous topography, rising sea levels will also affect water and stormwater infrastructure in the City.

SwalesSwales 101

A critical and often overlooked nature-based form of stormwater infrastructure are swales. These long, narrow stretches of gently sloping grass, normally located alongside roads, sidewalks, or in front of properties, serve numerous purposes and are integral to communities like NoMi that experience rain events throughout the year. Swales are instrumental in managing stormwater and reducing the impacts of flooding. Their flexibility to fit a variety of landscapes, in concert with relatively low maintenance needs, make swales ideal for all to implement and reap the benefits.

Why should swales be protected?
Swales function as an essential form of stormwater management and should be protected because they assist with reducing the effects of flooding and help treat runoff, allowing less pollution to flow into canals and the Biscayne Bay. It is up to every single one of us to be an advocate for the protection of swales and educate our neighbors and friends on the pivotal roles they play.

Benefits of Swales
  • Swales provide a natural way for stormwater to collect away from roads and property in a controlled manner that slows down the movement of water.
  • The soil within swales helps trap pollutants associated with runoff and acts as a barrier for pollution that would otherwise flow into our bodies of water and pollute potable water.
  • These open drainage systems do not just reduce the magnitude of flooding, but also serve as a form of beautifying open spaces and creating an aesthetically pleasing environment.
How should they be maintained?
  • Please do not park on them! The weight of cars compacts the soil reducing the effectiveness of their pollution reduction.
  • Mow them periodically, if overgrown.
  • Clear out any debris or trash as it appears.
  • Aerate the soil every few months. We can poke holes in the soil to allow for soil aeration and therefore, better water retention.
  • Reduce our fertilizer and pesticide usage when possible.
Who should maintain swales?
  • Residents and the City of North Miami are responsible for maintaining our swales. Actively doing your part, while working with the City to maintain healthy swales, will ensure that North Miami stays beautiful, healthy, and thriving for years to come.