Global climate change poses a major threat to communities worldwide through increased severity and frequency of natural hazards and reduced access to critical resources such as food and water. Preventing or limiting these harms will require adaptation by actors at all levels of society. The ability of actors and systems to adapt is called adaptive capacity, and building this capacity would substantially reduce vulnerability and, ultimately, prevent harm. Recognizing this potential, research on adaptive capacity has drawn interest from a wide range of disciplines, and international development practitioners have begun efforts to build capacity. However, efforts have been stymied by lack of agreement on exactly what adaptive capacity is or how to assess and build it. My dissertation combines digital humanities tools and vulnerability studies to provide new methods to define, assess, and apply adaptive capacity to build communities that are better able to prepare for and respond to climate change.