Scientific evidence shows that the climate is changing in the Midwest. In Indiana, average annual temperatures have increased 1.2°F since 1895 and by the late 21st century are projected to increase an additional 6-10°F. Precipitation is becoming heavier and more damaging in the winter and spring, and water is becoming less plentiful in the summer and fall, with implications for agriculture, ecosystems, and flood frequency and severity. 

Climate change will not impact every city, town, and county in the same way, nor to the same extent. To lower community risk, local governments have a responsibility to ensure that critical community structures and services are prepared, and that preparedness is equitably addressed across neighborhoods and households.

The Index has two parts: 

  • Part 1, Climate Vulnerability, presents data on four metrics (heat, precipitation, land use, and sociodemographics) for every incorporated city and town and every county within the state of Indiana. All data come from credible, publicly available government or university sources. The information in this part of the Index is available to anyone through the Hoosier Resilience Index user-friendly website.
  • Part 2, Readiness Assessment, is available only to local governments that wish to complete the self-guided worksheets and obtain a readiness score. Users apply for a unique Assessment, which allows them to evaluate their community’s readiness using the worksheets provided, from which staff at the Environmental Resilience Institute will calculate three readiness scores: for extreme heat, for precipitation events, and for river flooding. It is up to each community to decide what process it will use and scores will not be available to the general public on the Index website.

The Environmental Resilience Institute intends for the Hoosier Resilience Index to be easy to use and understand, informative, objective, inspiring, and accessible to the diverse array of cities, towns, and counties within the state and beyond. It uses Indiana-specific data about future environmental conditions. Although the tool has been initially designed for an Indiana audience (and the data are Indiana specific), the Index is intended to be relevant across a range of community sizes in the Midwest. 

The Index helps communities understand where to focus their attention and provides a methodology for measuring progress towards resilience. The Index is intended to complement, not duplicate, existing tools for climate-related vulnerability assessments.

The Hoosier Resilience Index was developed by researchers at Indiana University with experience in a wide range of disciplines related to climate science, data analytics, and resilience and mitigation policies and programs. The Environmental Resilience Institute eagerly sought and gratefully received input from local government officials and staff, and many other external parties along the way. Two counties and two municipalities participated in a beta test of the Index and provided invaluable feedback.