Vulnerability and Consequences Adaptation Planning Scenarios (VCAPS)

Vulnerability and Consequences Adaptation Planning Scenarios (VCAPS) is a facilitated, scenario-building process that enables users to construct and display causal pathways that link climate stressors, vulnerabilities, and consequences with appropriate local adaptation options. The Social and Environmental Research Institute (SERI) has developed this participatory mediated modeling process with the initial goal of examining the support VCAPS can offer climate change adaptation planning by local decision makers from coastal communities. 

The VCAPS 'causal pathways' established for each community are created with an interactive, computer-based diagramming tool. During this process, multiple, locally relevant climate scenarios are provided that the community should be prepared for, such as increased rainfall, more intense hurricanes, drought, or other scenarios that are based upon the best available science. The diagramming tool allows users to represent information about these pathways that link hazards, impacts, vulnerabilities, and management actions. Because climate change could have numerous impacts at the local level, this interactive diagramming process is designed to allow community leaders to define potential climate implications on one or a variety of local management areas (i.e. stormwater management, wastewater management, water supply, beach and waterfront management, building & zoning, emergency management, and public health).

In 2011, VCAPS was initially tested and refined through its application in two South Carolina coastal communities. Since then, it has been applied in additional communities with the assistance of research, outreach and extension partners, including Sullivan’s Island, SC; McClellanville, SC; Plymouth, NC; Plymouth, MA; and Boston, MA. 

For additional information on VCAPS, contact Seth Tuler, Senior Researcher at the Social and Environmental Research Institute at

SERI conducts research on a broad range of social and environmental issues, while emphasizing topics related to discursive approaches to policy and social relations to the environment. For more detail, SERI is an additional entry in this clearinghouse.

Publication Date: 2011

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  • Scenario planning

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