Urban areas are amongst the most adversely affected regions by current and future climate change effects. One issue when it comes to measuring, for example, impacts, vulnerabilities, and resilience in preparation of adaptation action is the abundance of conceptual frameworks and associated definitions. Frequently, those definitions contradict each other and shift over time. Prominently, in the transition from the IPCC AR (International Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report) 4 to the IPCC AR 5, a number of conceptual understandings have changed. By integrating common concepts, the literature review presented intends to thoroughly investigate frameworks applied to assess climate change effects on urban areas, creating an evidence base for research and politically relevant adaptation. Thereby, questions concerning the temporal development of publication activity, the geographical scopes of studies and authors, and the dominant concepts as applied in the studies are addressed. A total of 50 publications is identified following screening titles, abstracts, and full texts successively based on inclusion and exclusion criteria. Major findings derived from our literature corpus include a recently rising trend in the number of publications, a focus on Chinese cities, an imbalance in favor of authors from Europe and North America, a dominance of the concept of vulnerability, and a strong influence of the IPCC publications. However, confusion regarding various understandings remains. Future research should focus on mainstreaming and unifying conceptual frameworks and definitions as well as on conducting comparative studies.
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