Release notes

Adaptation is an evolving concept, and our understanding of climate change and the risks it presents is constantly improving with greater research and better data. At ND-GAIN, we strive to estimate adaptation risk and opportunity using the best-available research and user tools. To accomplish these goals, ND-GAIN will be periodically revised and updated, and new tools for data visualization and analytics will be released. This page lists the different updated we have carried out since the arrival of ND-GAIN at the University of Notre Dame in 2013.

November 2015 release

Overview of Major Changes

ND-GAIN's November 2015 release is a major release. This release includes the following improvements: 1) The inclusion of the 2014 year and its corresponding data, 2) major update of World Bank, FAO, FAOStat, and other data, and 3) enhancements to one exposure indicator.

Inclusion of 2014 year

The Web-site and asociated visualization tools now include the 2014 year and its associated data.

Update of 2013 and earlier year data

2013 and earlier data has been updated by some sources; in the case of some indicators, more data is available, which means that the Index is more accurate as interpolation is not used to fill-in missing years.

Enhancement of one exposure indicator

The Projected Change in Vector-Borne Diseases has been updated to also reflect the quality of public services, which was not considered in the earlier release.

Please consult the Technical document or contact us for more information.

June/July 2015 release

Overview of Major Changes

ND-GAIN's June/July 2015 release includes the following: 1) enhancements to the exposure indicators, 2) the updating of World Bank data, 3) the release of new tools, and 4) The renaming of two indicators: 'Projected change of malaria hazard' to 'Projected change in vector-borne diseases' and 'Projected change of heatwave hazard' to 'Projected change of warm periods'. This release also contains important computation error fixes of an intermediate June release as well as more accurate sector/component computation. Please contact us for more information.

Enhancement of exposure indicators

Consultation with experts in various fields have led us to update the methodologies to calculate indicator scores of two exposure measures. First, we set minimum values for the baseline projections to offset the effect of near-zero baselines, which causes large percent changes from baseline to the future projections even though the absolute changes are not significant. This type of update is applied to the Projections of Surface Runoff and to the Groundwater Recharge Projection. Second, we calculated vulnerability scores using the whole projected change range. Our previous approach consisted in assigning zero vulnerability scores whenever the climate risk was negative (e.g. positive change of cereal yield or shorter length of transmission season, etc.). This type of update is applied to Projections of Cereal Yield, Population Growth, Surface Runoff, Groundwater Recharge, Vector-Borne Disease, Heatwave, Flood Hazard, and Hydropower Generation Capacity.

Updating of World Bank data

Through automated processes we update our data to reflect the World Bank's latest additions and corrections of indicators.

New visualization and analysis tools

Three new tools are provided: 1) The ND-GAIN Matrix visualization tool allows the user explore the time-series progress of a nation or groups of nations in any readiness and vulnerability components or indicators. This tool lets the user have valuable insights on the relationship between two variables through time for any number of nations. 2) The 'what if' tool allows the user explore the ND-GAIN score in hypothetical scenarios where a nation might have improved one or more of its indicators. This tool also allows the user to apply weights to the indicators or to the sectors and see how such weighting would affect the ND-GAIN score of all nations. 3) The trend tool allows the user to generate linear trends for all ND-GAIN indicators and components.

Comparison to the previous release (Dec. 2014)

1) 156 countries did not change more than 10 places on the ranking

2) 14 countries keep exactly the same rank

3) 5 countries move up more than 10 places in the new ranking

4) 12 countries move down more than 10 places in the new ranking

5) The average rank change by country is 4.61 positions, with a standard deviation of 4.79

6) The countries that changed the most, moving up (+) or down (-) more than 15 places in ranking are: Antigua and Barbuda (-28), Barbados (-15), Comoros (-17), Montenegro (19), Saint Kitts and Nevis (-22), Sao Tome and Principe (-15), Seychelles (-28), and Solomon Islands (-20)

The reasons of the changes are the aforementioned adjustments to the exposure indicators and the updating of World Bank data.

December 2014 release

Overview of Major Changes

With the arrival of ND-GAIN at the University of Notre Dame in 2013, we seized an opportunity to revisit the Index, taking advantage of the university's academic expertise and updating the Index to reflect recent data and literature. The ND-GAIN team also used the past year to develop new tools for Index computation and analysis. Several of these tools will appear online in 2014.

This page describes enhancements to the 2014 release, and the reasoning behind them, as well as a comparison between the 2013 and 2014 releases. We also describe new features that allow for enhanced data visualization, analytics, and user exploration.

ND-GAIN anticipates occasional updates. When this occurs, revisions are applied to all years so that historic comparisons are possible. Previous versions of ND-GAIN are also available upon request to

The basic framework of ND-GAIN has not changed, and the index calculation is still done backward from 1995. However, the indicators making up ND-GAIN have been updated to reflect new information and to provide more consistency and usability.

The 2014 Index (released Nov 5, 2014) provides:

1) Consistent terminology (in vulnerability sectors of the index) so that a single definition of exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity applies across all sectors. The 2014 definitions follow terminology in the recent literature. For example, exposure and sensitivity are not bundled together to define climate risks as the 2013 index did. Please consult the technical document for concept definitions.

2) Distinction among vulnerability sectors (for all the six life-supporting sectors) to minimize conceptual overlap within the Index. For example, a single infrastructure sector was created for the 2014 release. What was previously transportation infrastructure was merged with human habitat sector, as transportation is critical to resiliency where humans live and the transport of goods to where humans consume them.

3) Distinction among components (in vulnerability) defines each component by choosing appropriate indicators that would allow little overlap. To do so, some indicators have been positioned to another sector or another component and some others are excluded to avoid imprecise descriptions. Although the index is an aggregation of these indicators by using more precise measurement ND-GAIN is able to disentangle an issue of climate change vulnerability into three sub-issues, namely exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity.

4) Updated data for exposure (in vulnerability) includes updates from the climate science community regarding greenhouse gas emission scenarios, to the latest Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP, see here for details), when possible, that predict future warming and standardization of time horizons for climate projections across sectors.

5) More flexibility for downscaling of the index (in exposure indicators) thanks to the availability of high-resolution projections that identify physical impacts of climate change and can be interpreted for various scales using Geographic Information Systems.

6) Updates in response to user feedback, (in economic readiness) including a shift in the data used to specify economic readiness. The 2014 release now uses a single economic indicator, the World Bank’s Doing Business, to capture a series of indicators that were previously drawn from the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom.

7) Updated ICT technology data (in social readiness), accounting for a wider range of technologies that enable citizen connectedness, more than just via mobile phones. These technologies also enable education about adaptation and disaster risk.

8) Equal weighting between all sectors (vulnerability) and components (readiness).

2014 Release Sectors and Descriptions

Vulnerability Sectors: Brief Description

Water: Vulnerability of water supplies Food: Vulnerability of food security Health: Vulnerability of public health Ecosystem Service: Vulnerability of natural capital Human Habitat: Vulnerability of human living conditions Infrastructure: Vulnerability of utilizing infrastructures

Readiness Components: Brief Description

Economic Readiness: Readiness of the business climate to accept investment Governance Readiness: Institutional factors that enhance application of investment for adaptation financial resources Social Readiness: Social factors that enhance application of financial resources for adaptation

As in previous versions of ND-GAIN, vulnerability is composed of exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity, across the sectors given above. Readiness is composed of three dimensions. Each portion of vulnerability is represented with two indicators or data streams. Each readiness dimension is a compilation of several indicators. All portions of ND-GAIN are weighted equally. Details of the ND-GAIN structure is documented in the technical document.

There are 36 vulnerability indicators in the 2014 release, the same number as the 2013 release. Thirteen vulnerability indicators remain the same and are in the same location of the Index. Fifteen vulnerability indicators are new release (10 of the 15 new vulnerability indicators are exposure indicators). Six vulnerability indicators have moved from one location in the Index to another; and two vulnerability indicators are drawn from new sources.

The number of readiness indicators has changed from 14 to 9 in the 2014 release. Two readiness indicators remain the same and are in the same location. Eleven indicators are new.

Overview website portal

A number of computational tools have been developed and used to compute the index and carry out various types of analyses. These tools include utilities that automatically download data from sources (such as the World Bank) and update the index accordingly. The website visualization tools allows the user dive further into the index through exploring individual indicators, sectors and components for over 178 nations and over 40 groups of nations. This allows the user see the effects of individual indicators on the final scores and rankings. Some of the features include:

1) Visualization of each individual indicator, sector, and area using line graphs and spider graphs

2) Graphically compare indicators, sectors and areas of two nations or groups of nations

3) For all nations and all years, download all indicators, sector scores, and final ND-GAIN scores.

We also provide comprehensive documentation and metadata (information on data) that let the user reproduce the Index independently.

Comparison of 2013 and 2014 Releases

(All numbers are for data-year 2012 to enable most direct comparison)

1) 96 countries ranking did not change more than 10 places on the ranking

7 countries kept the same rank

2) 29 countries move up more than 10 places in the new ranking

3) 48 countries move down more than 10 places in the new ranking

4) The average rank change by country is 11.6 positions, with a standard deviation of 9.1

5) The countries that changed the most, moving up or down 25 places in ranking are Russia (+39), China (+42), Seychelles (+36), Iraq (+33), Saudi Arabia (+31) Botswana (+27), South Korea (+26), Zimbabwe (+26), Nepal (+25) (which have improved rankings from 2013 release to 2014 release) and Guatemala (-27), Mauritius (-27), El Salvador (-30), Jordan (-31), Romania (-38) and Belize (-38) (which have declined rankings from 2013 release to 2014 release)

The reasons of changes are two: 1. Some new indicators were chosen and some of the legacy indicators were substituted (see above); 2. For the indicators that remain, data were updated in various sources, hence backward calculations were updated accordingly. Each of the major ranking changes was validated to judge if the change is reasonable when compared to external information sources. For example, Russia’s vulnerability ranking improves tremendously from 49 to 6, which largely contributes to Russia’s overall ranking shifts. This trend of shift proves to be consistent to other third-party studies.

For a detailed explanation of 2014 indicators, please consult the technical document.

Notre Dame Global Adaptation Initiative
1400 E. Angela Blvd., Suite 117 - South Bend, IN 46617

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