Project Exposure

The project location’s exposure to climate and geophysical hazards is assessed in the Exposure to hazards screening step. Exposure is the overlap between the presence of potentially damaging hazards and the location of communities, assets, and resources that are relevant to the project.
Climate and geophysical hazards: Project teams assess exposure to two sets of hazards: climate hazards and geophysical hazards.1 The Coastal Flood Protection tool addresses the following climate hazards:
  • Extreme Temperature
  • Precipitation
  • Riverine flooding
  • Sea level
  • Storm surge
  • Strong Winds
  • Ocean temperature and acidity
The tool addresses the following geophysical hazards:
  • Earthquakes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcano eruptions
  • Landslides2
The phrase “climate and geophysical hazards” captures all of the hydro-meteorological, oceanographic, and geophysical hazards listed above. These hazards were selected because they are highly relevant to coastal flood protection projects. The list is not exhaustive; in some cases, certain hazards might not be explicitly addressed by the tool (examples include heat waves, drought, and freeze-thaw cycles). Users have the option of adding additional hazards to the screening list. The screening tool does not address manmade disasters, such as armed conflict or chemical spills.
Data sources: For data on hazards in the project location, the tool relies largely on the World Bank’s Climate Change Knowledge Portal (CCKP) and the CCKP’s Country Adaptation and Risk Profiles. The CCKP draws on global, quality-controlled datasets and is continually updated as new data become available. In some cases, the CCKP is supplemented with other sources of information. For more detail on the data used in this step, please refer to the [Data Annex ].
Climate time-frames: Exposure to climate hazards is evaluated in two time-frames, Historical/Current and Future, because past records are not necessarily indicative of future conditions. The Historical/Current time-frame is based on past extreme events and recent climate trends, such as increases in average temperature from the 1960-90 time period to the 1990-current time period. The Future time-frame focuses on the climate and climate-related conditions projected under different socioeconomic scenarios.

Uncertainty and Spatial Scale of Climate Projections

The projections of future climate listed in the CCKP are currently derived from General Circulation Models (GCMs), the most advanced tools available for simulating the response of the global climate system to increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.3 Caution must be used when applying these projections to project-level climate risk assessments because of the uncertainty associated with climate models. While this tool employs projections to provide a general sense of future trends, the information is not intended to be a definitive representation of the future. Further, the coarse resolution of the projections (~200 km x 200 km) does not capture climate variability within each grid cell, making the projections more difficult to apply to the spatial scale of projects. For more information on climate projections, please refer to the [Data Annex].
The default future time-frame selected in the Country Adaptation and Risk profiles is mid-century: 2040-59. This period was selected because it is most relevant to the lifetime of the World Bank’s projects and investments. However, since project lifetimes vary from project to project, users should adjust the time-frame of the climate information as necessary. Figure 2 below illustrates the concept of the time scale of climate change and project lifetimes as it applies to a range of investments.
Because geophysical hazards (earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, and volcano eruptions) do not have associated future projections, exposure for those hazards is assessed only in the Historical/Current time-frame.
Figure 2. Time scales relevant to different types of investments.
Rating scale: The rating scale for exposure enables users to differentiate between hazards that occur with high frequency or severity, at one extreme, and those that may not be applicable to their project location, at the other. For example, certain coastal areas may also be exposed to storm surge but not to riverine flooding. The rating scale looks like this:
Insufficient Understanding Not Exposed Slightly Exposed Moderately Exposed Highly Exposed
1 See "Key terms" [for definitions].
2 Numerous factors contribute to landslides, such as earthquakes, heavy rainfall, and erosion. However, because landslides are fundamentally ground movements, rather than climatic events, they are classified here as a geophysical hazard.
3 See Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “What is a GCM?” (