Understanding climate risk is crucial for effective adaptation action, and a number of assessment methodologies have emerged. We argue that the dynamics of the individual components in climate risk and vulnerability assessments has received little attention. In order to highlight this, we systematically reviewed 42 sub-national climate risk and vulnerability assessments. We analysed the assessments using an analytical framework with which we evaluated (1) the conceptual approaches to vulnerability and exposure used, (2) if current or future risks were assessed, and (3) if and how changes over time (i.e. dynamics) were considered. Of the reviewed assessments, over half addressed future risks or vulnerability; and of these future-oriented studies, less than 1/3 considered both vulnerability and exposure dynamics. While the number of studies that include dynamics is growing, and while all studies included socio-economic aspects, often only biophysical dynamics was taken into account. We discuss the challenges of assessing socioeconomic and spatial dynamics, particularly the poor availability of data and methods. We suggest that future-oriented studies assessing risk dynamics would benefit from larger stakeholder involvement, discussion of the assessment purpose, the use of multiple methods, inclusion of uncertainty/sensitivity analyses and pathway approaches.