Map: Social Vulnerability Index: GIS Data Downloads

GIS Data Downloads

This page contains links to downloadable geographic data created or modified by Pacific Institute researchers for the report Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in California.

-Wildfire Risk
-Air Quality Forecasts
-Extreme Heat
-Social Vulnerability Index 

The links on this page are not maps. They are data files, created for use by Geographic Information System (GIS) software. You will need a GIS application package capable of importing the data. A free data viewer, ArcExplorer, capable of displaying the data is available from ESRI at There are also a number of open-source programs available, such as Quantum GIS (

Each dataset includes descriptive metadata, or information about the data. The metadata describes how and when and by whom a particular set of data was collected, and how the data is formatted.

Your may use or redistribute these data for free. Please reference the Pacific Institute as the originator of the dataset in any future products or research derived from these data. If you redistribute this data, please include the original metadata and source attribution.

Wildfire Risk

The data in this file represent modeled wildfire risk in California with climate change (Krawchuk and Moritz 2012). The file contains fields reporting the probability of one or more fires over the 30-year analysis periods, for historic (1971-2000) to future (up to 2099) periods, under two scenarios of climate change. The scenarios are IPCC SRES B1 and A2, or a medium and a medium-high scenario of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. Data shown here are from Krawchuk and Moritz (2012) and are based on GFDL Model and UPlan Base-Case Growth Scenario.

Krawchuk, M. A. and M. A. Moritz (Simon Fraser University; University of California, Berkeley). 2012. Fire and Climate Change in California. California Energy Commission. Publication Number: CEC-500-2012-026.

Download links:
-Shapefile (19 MB)
-ESRI Geodatabase (42 MB)

Air Quality Forecasts

This dataset contains an 8km grid that portrays current and future air quality in California, projected to the year 2050, under a scenario of climate change and future emissions. The raster datasets on which it is based were created by scientists at UC Davis under a contract with the California Air Resources Board (Kleeman et al. 2010). Fields contain model-simulated estimates of particulate matter (PM2.5) in concentrations of micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³) under present conditions (2000–2006) and by mid-century (2047-2050). The Pacific Institute also created fields reporting a qualitative assessment of hazard, assigning grid cells as low, medium, or high exposure, with reference to air quality standards designed to protect human health.

Kleeman, M. J., S. Chen, and R. A. Harley. 2010. Climate Change Impact on Air Quality in California. Report to the California Air Resources Board. Sacramento, California.

Download links:
-Shapefile (450 K)
-ESRI Geodatabase (750 K)

Extreme Heat

Information on the future severity, frequency, and duration of heat waves in Califoria is available in an easy-to-use form at the Cal-Adapt website. 

In addition, Pacific Institute researchers have created new datasets on the frequency of future heat waves, as described in Section 3.1.2, Extreme Heat, on page 12 of our 2012 report. This information is a set of large (~1 GB) database tables that are available on request from the author. Contact Matthew Heberger at or 510-251-1600. Available data includes 12km gridded datasets portraying:

  • High-heat threshold (Historical average 95th percentile of daily maximum temperature).
  • Number of days exceeding 105°F.
  • Number of periods where the daytime maximum temperature exceeds 105°F for two days in a row and the night-time temperature does not go below 85°F.
  • Number of days exceeding the historical 95th percentile high-heat threshold.

All data are available for the following analysis periods:

  • 1971 – 2000
  • 2010 – 2039
  • 2040 – 2069
  • 2070 – 2099

And for four downscaled climate models:

  • CGCM4/CanCM4 from the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis
  • CCSM3 from the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research
  • GFDL CM2.x from the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory(GFDL)
  • HadCM3 from the UK Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change
  • Average of the above 4
Social Vulnerability Index

To compare social vulnerability to climate change among areas within the state, we created an index that combines a number of individual vulnerability factors into a single, composite indicator. Our Social Vulnerability Index is useful for assessing overall vulnerability and comparing areas within the state. We compiled the social vulnerability index at the Census Tract level. We calculated a vulnerability index value for each of the 7,049 census tracts in the state (which, in 2000, averaged about 5,000 people in each). We used the census tract boundaries from the 2000 Census, rather than the more recent 2010 Census boundaries. We used the older boundaries because much of the data we used was collected from 2005–2009 and was compiled according to the year-2000 census tract boundaries.

A more detailed description of our methods and assumptions is here. The social vulnerability index is for all 2000 Census Tracts in California, and is available in four formats:

This information is being made available for informational purposes only. Users of this information agree by their use to hold blameless the State of California, and its respective officers, employees, agents,  contractors, and subcontractors for any liability associated with its use in any form. This work shall not be used to assess actual  hazards, insurance requirements, or property values.

- Download the report Social Vulnerability to Climate Change in California.
- Download the abstract.
- View Social Vulnerability Index map.
- View the Social Vulnerability to Climate Change: Individual Factors map.
- Download the press release.