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Back to climate, updates

Transportation Featured Content

Over the past five years, there has been a large body of literature developed on climate impacts on transportation and transportation adaptation. This work includes:

  • Pilot studies and case studies of particular locations
  • Methodological studies, including risk analysis and planning under uncertainty
  • Instructional literature, including webinars
  • Studies of particular categories of transportation systems
  • Engineering guidelines and recommendations for particular facilities and situations (i.e., highways in the coastal environment)

The listing below includes a representative selection from these categories, mostly work undertaken by or for the Federal Government.

  • 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment and 2018 U.S. National Climate Assessment: The Transportation chapters provide a comprehensive overview of the latest scientific information on the impacts of climate change on transportation. Exploring the following resources should provide a greater understanding of the vulnerability to climate change and other stressors.

  • American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card: Every four years, the ASCE develops a report card of America's infrastructure by assigning letter grades to the varying infrastructures in place. "Grades" are based on multiple parameters, such as physical condition, need for improvement, public safety, and more. Infrastructures reviewed include energy, transportation, wastewater, recreation, and many more.

  • Assessing State Long Range Transportation Planning Initiatives in the Northeast for Climate and Energy Benefits (2005): This study identifies long range transportation planning (LRTP) best practices for climate protection and energy efficiency outcomes, which were selected based on interviews with LRTP professionals, a literature search, and a review of state LRTPs in the 29 states with Climate Action Plans, or gubernatorial initiatives directing state agencies to coordinate planning for climate and energy efficiency outcomes. Fifteen state transportation plans were selected to further analyze planning processes that contain a specific intention to integrate climate and energy outcomes into long range transportation planning and identify best practices for integration by state Department of Transportations (DOTs).

  • Integration of Climate Change Considerations in Statewide and Regional Transportation Planning Processes (2009): Case Studies and Proceedings from Panels at the Transportation Research Board and Association of Metropolitan Planning Organization Conferences.

  • Iowa Climate Change Adaptation & Resilience Report: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a report that highlights the results of a project in which the EPA, U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state and local leaders in Iowa worked together to integrate the latest science on changing weather patterns into local and state planning efforts to adapt to and mitigate damage from future natural disasters.

  • Summary Report: MPO Peer Workshop on Planning for Climate Change (2008): This report summarizes the proceedings of the March 6-7, 2008 workshop on planning for climate change. Representatives from 13 MPOs shared their experiences and challenges in the area in an effort to exchange knowledge and ideas.

  • Transportation Planning, Climate Change, and Decision Making Under Uncertainty: This paper summarizes the major characteristics of travel forecasting procedures and their limited treatment of uncertainty, then presents several methods by which forecasting has been done outside the field of transportation that include explicit consideration of uncertainty.

  • VTrans Climate Change Action Plan (2008): This document outlines the VTrans Climate Action Plans, which focuses on (1) reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector, (2) protecting Vermont’s transportation infrastructure from the effects of climate changes, and (3) reducing VTrans’ operation impacts on climate change.

  • Coastal Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region (2009): This report is intended to provide information about the sensitivity and adaptability of different natural and managed ecosystems and human systems to climate and related global changes by providing a detailed assessment of the effects of sea-level rise on coastal environments and presenting some of the challenges that need to be addressed in order to adapt to sea-level rise while protecting environmental resources and sustaining economic growth.

  • Flooded Bus Barns and Buckled Rails: Public Transportation and Climate Change Adaptation: This report examines projected climate impacts on U.S. transit, climate change adaptation efforts by domestic and foreign transit agencies, transit adaptation strategies, risk management tools, and incorporation of adaptation into transit agency organizational structures and processes.

  • Global Climate Change and Transportation: Coming to Terms (2001): This set of readings aimed to build increased professional understanding among state DOTs and other transportation organizations of the global climate change issues and their implications for transportation decisions. The ENO Transportation Foundation commissioned presentations of important aspects of global climate change and their potential implications for the nation’s transportation system.

  • Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: The Gulf Coast Study: To better understand potential climate change impacts on transportation infrastructure and identify adaptation strategies, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) conducted a comprehensive, multi-phase study of climate change impacts in the Central Gulf Coast region. This region is home to a complex multimodal network of transportation infrastructure and several large population centers, and it plays a critical national economic role in the import and export of oil and gas, agricultural products, and other goods. The study is sponsored by the U.S. DOT’s Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is managed by FHWA.

  • Planning for Climate Change Impacts at U.S. Ports (2009): U.S. ports need to better understand climate change and how it may impact them. Over the coming decades, ports are likely to experience higher sea levels and storm surges due to climate change, as well as other direct and indirect impacts. Most ports do not appear to be thinking about, let alone actively preparing to address, the effects of climate change.

  • The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation, Transportation Research Board Special Report 290 (2008): The primary focus of this TRB Special Report 290 is on the consequences of climate change for the infrastructure and operations of U.S. transportation. The report provides transportation professionals with an overview of the scientific consensus on current and future climate changes of particular relevance to U.S. transportation, including the limitations of present scientific understanding as to their precise timing, magnitude, and geographic location; identifies potential impacts on U.S. transportation and adaptation options; and, offers recommendations for both research and actions that can be taken to prepare for climate change.

  • The Potential Impacts of Global Sea Level Rise on Transportation Infrastructure (2008): The study uses multiple data sources to identify the potential impact of sea level rise on land and transportation infrastructure along the Atlantic coast, from Florida to New York. The study (1) creates maps of land and transportation infrastructure that, without protection, could be inundated regularly by the ocean or be at risk of periodic inundation due to storm surge under a range of sea level rise scenarios; and, (2) provides statistics to demonstrate the potential extent of land areas and transportation infrastructure affected.

  • Regional Climate Change Effects: Useful Information for Transportation Agencies (2010): This document provides basic information on projected future climate change effects (changes in temperature, precipitation, storm activity and sea level rise) over the near term, mid-century and end-of-century. The report includes two appendices: maps for some of the climate change effects, and a “typology” of projected climate change information gleaned from recent reports.

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