Science To Support Adapting To Climate Change In The Transportation Sector

The report Potential Impacts of Climate Change on US Transportation (NRC, 2008g) identifies a number of potential engineering options for strengthening and protecting transportation facilities such as bridges, ports, roads, and railroads from coastal storms and flooding as a short-term adaptation measure. The report also identifies a number of research needs and potential actions that will be necessary to support climate-related decision making in the transportation sector, including improved communication processes among transportation professionals, climate scientists, and other relevant scientific disciplines; a clearinghouse for transportation-relevant information on climate change; developing climate data and decision-support tools that incorporate the needs of transportation decision makers; developing and implementing monitoring technologies for major transportation facilities; developing mechanisms for sharing best practices; reevaluation of existing and development of new design standards; and creating a federal-level interagency working group focused on adaptation. Many of these initiatives would require federal action, while others would require action by professional organizations and university researchers.

Potential options and considerations for adaptation to climate change in the transportation sector are discussed in the companion report Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change (NRC, 2010a). The report also notes that planning for adaptation in the transportation sector will require new modeling tools, the establishment of standards consistent with future climate risks (as opposed to those based on historical conditions), and improved communication between the climate science and transportation decision making communities.

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