Hazards Planning Center

Helping Communities Plan for Climate Extremes

Project Overview

There is a disconnect between the availability of climate data (which has increased considerably over the past several years) and how that climate data is applied to the local planning and decision-making process.

Resources, staff, and funding are limited on the local level, where planning for climate change must compete with day-to-day concerns.

In the Great Lakes region, where more frequent high-precipitation events due to climate change are likely, this is especially pronounced, particularly when compared with communities on the oceanic coast. Overcoming the barriers to planning and implementation by local planning agencies is essential to ensuring communities can adequately prepare for climate change.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through its Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP), fosters local climate adaptation and mitigation by addressing gaps in data, understanding, and capacity among communities nationwide.

Project Details

The American Planning Association (APA), in partnership with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), and with support from the Illinois State Climatologist, and the Illinois/Indiana Sea Grant & Midwest Regional Climate Center, will work to further this mission by seeking ways to help Great Lakes communities plan for climate extremes by using available climate data.

APA and its partners will achieve this by working with five partner communities in the Chicago metropolitan area to identify barriers to data resources and availability in the development and implementation of local plans.

Findings in the form of a Guidebook, Data Analysis Guide, and a set of case studies will be disseminated to planners, floodplain managers, and practitioners nationwide with a special focus on replicability in the Great Lakes region.

This project will seek to answer the following questions:

  • What kind of climate data do local governments need to make informed plans for the future?
  • How can planners, practitioners, and the scientific community work together to translate good climate science into the planning and decision-making process?
  • What barriers do communities face in using meaningful climate data in the local planning process, and how can those challenges be addressed?

To answer these questions, APA and its partners will:

  • Organize an advisory committee to provide expertise and feedback on how to refine the process of conducting climate-data-driven planning.
  • Identify five pilot communities of varying sizes in the Chicago metropolitan area and develop a mutually agreed upon assessment of the use of climate data in the current planning process.
  • Develop data analysis tools to meet the identified needs of stakeholders based upon the pilot community condition assessment.
  • Provide direct planning support to pilot communities to test the integration of data into comprehensive and capital improvement plans.
  • Prepare a wide variety of capacity-building climate resilience planning resources for planners, floodplain managers, and practitioners throughout the Great Lakes region.


An annotated bibliography of resources related to the subject matter of this project.

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