Overview and Purposes

What is VCAPS?

The Vulnerability, Consequences, and Adaptation Planning Scenarios (VCAPS) process supports planning by local decision makers concerned about coastal management and climate change vulnerability and adaptation.

VCAPS builds on concepts of hazard management and vulnerability and uses participatory modeling techniques to organize and document dialogue and learning. Local knowledge and experience is integrated with scientific knowledge. The process is flexible and can be fine-tuned to the interests of participants.

Often, the information available to local decision makers about coastal hazards and climate change is about direct impacts in the environment: magnitude of sea level rise, increases in precipitation, changes in water temperatures, areas at risk of flooding, and numbers of extreme heat days.

But, what do these mean for a specific community?  What will be the result of sea level rise, more stormwater runoff, and more days over 90ºF?

These are some examples:

VCAPS helps local decision makers make sense of how such outcomes in the environment translate into social, economic, health, and other consequences in their community. It also helps them identify near-term and long-term strategies for adaptation and hazard management.  Specifically, information produced during a VCAPS process can include:

  • description of current system responses to existing hazards or conditions,
  • description of how current system responses will change under new conditions, including thresholds (e.g., 1 foot SLR),
  • identification of new responses that may emerge under new conditions, and
  • identification and prioritization of strategies for preventing or mitigating consequences.

In a series of case studies in different communities we have found VCAPS useful for:

  • facilitating learning among individuals and within groups about factors that affect vulnerability and adaptation planning in local contexts,
  • facilitating sharing and integration of information within a group,
  • facilitating and informing coastal management and climate change adaptation planning, and
  • identifying data gaps.

Where VCAPS has been used

To date, our work to develop and evaluate this process has taken place in coastal communities in Alabama, Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

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