Columbus, Ohio Climate Adaptation Plan

The City of Columbus, Ohio Climate Adaptation Plan offers recommended actions that can be taken to help Columbus and central Ohio prepare for and adapt to climate change. Developed by a task force of researchers from the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center at the Ohio State University, the plan is designed to support Columbus city government, regional organizations, and residents in building a climate resilient community.

The first chapter provides an overview of climate change, and the local impacts occurring and anticipated for Columbus. The plan’s strategies focus on the region’s most pressing climate impacts of extreme heat, decreased air and water quality, and increased precipitation and flooding.

Some of the adaptation strategies included are coded as “necessary” and represent the highest priority actions for Columbus. These necessary actions have the fewest barriers to implementation and cost, or offer the “biggest return on investment.” Some of these recommendations include establishing a better network of centers for refuge from extreme heat, modernizing the electric grid, assessing stormwater infrastructure to decrease the risk of localized flooding, and the protection of vulnerable populations. The prioritized actions are found in eight technical chapters, represented by either a major climate impact or a sector that will be critically affected by climate change - including:

  • Extreme Heat
  • Air Quality and Energy
  • Flooding
  • Water Quality
  • Water Use
  • Ecosystems
  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Vulnerable Populations

Vulnerable Populations are given focused attention as a priority sector in this adaptation plan. Necessary and secondary strategies were developed for reaching and facilitating these communities through climate hazards. The Necessary Actions identified for Vulnerable Populations of Columbus include to:


  • Identify representative advocacy organizations for diverse and vulnerable populations.
  • Facilitate cross-cultural dialogue, offer training for service providers, and share best practices.
  • Ensure diverse modes of communication during environmental hazard emergencies to reach diverse and vulnerable populations.
  • Implement educational campaign on environmental hazard preparedness to reach diverse and vulnerable populations.
  • Coordinate closely with the Ohio public-private partnership to manage food and water access for vulnerable populations during environmental hazard emergencies.

Frontline communities are considered within other chapters of the plan and additional recommendations were developed, especially around extreme heat due to limited mobility, lack of access to residential air conditioning, and/or failure to be a part of a community that can provide support during an emergency (e.g., faith community, neighborhood group, senior citizen center).

Some of the Necessary Actions, or those most highly prioritized for Columbus, include to:

  • Establish a larger, better coordinated, and more responsive network of cooling centers and draft clear guidelines for network members.
  • Develop an emergency plan that can be implemented during a flood to ensure adequate transportation and logistics for critical resources.
  • Identify and assess risk associated with older flood control and stormwater infrastructure, and use data gathered to reduce risk by developing property owner education, informing the city’s capital projects, and establishing property owner requirements.
  • Continue upgrades to sewer system and sewage treatment infrastructure to reduce sewage contamination of waterways.
  • Promote sustainable landscaping practices for residential, commercial, and industrial properties.
  • Use GIS to map fixed critical assets, transportation routes, and vulnerable populations susceptible to environmental hazards.


Publication Date: December 18, 2018

Related Organizations:

  • Ohio State University


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

States Affected:


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