Climate Sensitivity Database

Tool Description

Climate changes poses a daunting challenge to natural resource managers and in response the University of Washington has partnered with key collaborators to conduct a climate change sensitivity assessment. This assessment is designed to evaluate the sensitivity of the species and ecological systems to climate change. This digital database summarizes the inherent climate-change sensitivities for species and habitats and will provide resource managers and decision makers with some of the most basic and most important information about how species and systems will likely respond to climate change.


  • While climate models continued to be refined and future projections periodically updated, the inherent sensitivities of species and systems will remain more or less similar. This web-based database is designed to be a central clearinghouse of these sensitivities and can be used in conjunction with other tools as they are updated with the most recent climate projections to assess vulnerability. Because it is a web-based database, the natural hisotry information and rankings are saved and can be used by others.


  • It is not a vulnerability assessment, but instead a sensitivity assessment--users need to think about how exposure is combine with the documented sensitivities to affect vulnerability. It is based on expert opinion and often those opinions come with high uncertainty (which is documented and quantified).

Skills needed

None for access and use of the information in the database, and none to moderate (1 hour) of training for entering data into the database

Tech support available

The Climate Sensitivity Database is currently managed and supported by staff at the University of Washington. Instead of providing the user with a stand-alone document, the database architects have incorporated help text and examples into the sensitivity questions to help guide the user. While still in partial development, users will soon be able to contact these staff directly through the database interface.

Equipment Needs

internet access and a web browser

Data Needs

Natural history information about species and systems


  • Olympic Peninsula NPS/USFS joint vulnerability and adaptation working group used the database and index to assess relative sensitivities to climate change of a number of wildlife species.

  • Idaho Fish and Game, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife are currently using the tool to help prioritize species wildlife action plans.

Submitted By: SarahCarr
Last Updated: April 13, 2012, 4:13 pm