Climate Adaptation and Transportation: Identifying Information and Assistance Needs

This report summarizes the presentations, discussions and recommendations from a workshop, “Climate Adaptation & Transportation: Identifying Information and Assistance Needs,” held November 16 - 17, 2011. Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Sector Applications and Research Program, the workshop was designed and facilitated by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP).

Over two days of presentations, information exchange, and intensive discussion, workshop participants sought to answer these two questions:

  • What kinds of information and assistance do transportation professionals need to more effectively adapt the transportation system to climate change and extreme weather?
  • How can the climate science community help meet those needs?

The workshop examined key challenges facing transportation officials in making climate adaptation decisions. Eight major findings are reviewed in the report along with summarized specific recommendations and actions to address each challenge. The focal topics were: 

  1. Better information on local, non-climate factors is often equally or more important to adaptation decisions than climate science information.
  2. Certain climate and weather information products are particularly important to adaptation efforts for transportation. Much of this information can be developed or significantly improved using current climate models.
  3. The form in which climate and weather information is communicated and delivered is as important as its availability.
  4. Education, in addition to information, is critical to sound decision-making and effective use of climate and weather information by the transportation community.
  5. Transportation officials need more and better tools for integrating climate and weather information with other multiple factors to make sound decisions.
  6. There are areas where more research and higher-resolution climate and weather information would be very useful for transportation planning, particularly information on rainfall intensity during extreme events and more information about small events.
  7. Climate adaptation efforts for transportation need to be addressed in the context of other management, economic, and institutional issues.
  8. Federal agencies should continue to enhance state and local capacity to prepare for severe weather and a changing climate.

The workshop then provided presentations and forums on: Visualizing and Communicating Adaptation; Economic Benefits of Climate Adaptation; a Review of Current Climate Science and Information Resources; Decision Making Frameworks; Climate Modeling and Uncertainty; and Examples of Transportation Climate Adaptation Efforts. 

Some pertinent examples of transportation adaptation efforts discussed include an overview of the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Transit Administration, and Chicago Transit Authority climate adaptation efforts; the Toronto climate change risk assessment tool; and the MTA response to severe storms in the NYC Region in 2007.






Publication Date: May 2012

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  • Best practice
  • Policy analysis/recommendations


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