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Transportation and Climate Change Clearinghouse

Impact Forecasts

As climate change affects transportation, it will be important to understand how transportation infrastructure may be impacted over the short- and long-term. This section provides resources on the possible impacts of climate change on U.S. transportation systems.


Coastal Sensitivity to Sea Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid-Atlantic Region (2009)
Environmental Protection Agency. A report by the U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.
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.
Factors Affecting Airport Weather Delay and the Impact of Climate Change (2009)
Pejovic, Tamara; Williams, Victoria A; Noland, Robert B; Toumi, Ralf. Transportation Research Board 88th Annual Meeting.
This paper evaluates the impact of changing weather on air transport operations over the coming 50 years, using a case study of London's Heathrow airport.
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.
Geospatial Analysis of Remote Sensing Data to Assess Built Environment Impacts on Heat Island Effect, Air Quality, and Global Warming (2009)
Uddin, Waheed; Brown, Carla; Dooley, Edward Scott; Wodajo, Bikila. Transportation Research Board 88th Annual.
Built surfaces increase energy demand and heat-island effects, adversely impact air quality, and produce greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming. This paper presents a methodology to estimate surface types in the built environment and their impacts on heat-island effects.
Global Climate Change and Transportation: Coming to Terms (2001)
Transportation Research Board
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.
Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009)
United States Global Change Research Program
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) is conducting 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.
Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study (2008) (PDF 10.06mb)
U.S. Climate Change Science Program
This multi-year research program studied how short and long-term changes in climate could affect transportation systems in the U.S. central Gulf Coast region and how transportation decision-makers could address possible impacts. Included in the analysis are the affects to roads, airports, rail, transit systems, and ports.
Impacts of Flooding and Climate Change on Urban Transportation: A System Wide Performance Assessment of the Boston Metro Area (2005)
(article available for purchase from
Journal: Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment
This paper assesses the potential impact of climate change on the system-wide performance of transportation networks using the Boston Metro Area as a case study. The methodology integrates projected changes in land use, demographic and climatic conditions into the urban transportation modeling system in order to explore the relative impacts of global warming on the system performance due to additional riverine and coastal flooding.
Multiagent Simulation in Transport: Impacts of CO2 Emission Trading Scheme in German Transport (2009)
Transportation Research Board 88th Annual Meeting
This article aims to show that behavioral multi-agent models are a suitable approach for assessing the impact of policy instruments to reduce CO2 emissions in road transport by introducing a multi agent model for the German road transport sector. A hypothetical CO2 emission trading scheme with an open and a closed alternative is applied to a Java-based simulated transport sector. The effects on certificate prices and fuel demand are calculated with respect to the individual reaction functions of households and carriers.
Planning for Climate Change Impacts at U.S. Ports (2009)
Transportation Research Board
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) (PDF 7.36mb)
Transportation Research Board
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. Five commissioned papers used by the committee to help develop the report, a summary of the report (PDF 901KB), and a National Academies press release associated with the report are available online.

The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation: Workshop Summary and Proceedings (2002)
U.S. Department of Transportation, Center for Climate Change
This research workshop focused on the issue of how future climate change might affect transportation and brought together top transportation and climate change experts to explore what is currently known about the interaction between climate change and transportation and identify key potential risks.
Below are the documents from this workshop.
Part II Discussion Papers:
The Potential Impacts of Global Sea Level Rise on Transportation Infrastructure (2008)
US Department of Transportation Climate Change Center
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)
U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
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. Also available in PDF: Report & Appendix A (1.3MB), Appendix B (17.5MB), Appendix C (463KB).
Transport at a crossroads: TERM 2008 indicators tracking transport and environment in the European Union
European Environment Agency
Workshop on the Impacts of Global Climate Change on Hydraulics and Hydrology and Transportation (2005)
Center for Transportation and the Environment, North Carolina State University
This workshop focused on the impacts of global climate change on hydraulics and hydrology and transportation in order to develop guidelines for practitioners dealing with the consequences of climate change.

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