European Road Authorities’ Climate Risk Assessment Tools: RIMAROCC and ROADAPT Projects

European nations have collaborated on two research projects since 2009 to develop a detailed climate change risk assessment methodology and tools for adapting transportation systems and infrastructure. The first project, entitled “RIMAROCC” (Risk Management for Roads in a Changing Climate), produced a risk assessment framework to support decision-making regarding roads in light of climate change impacts. The more recent “ROADAPT” (Roads for Today, Adapted for Tomorrow) project developed guidelines and tools to be used with the RIMAROCC risk assessment framework, to better inform detailed vulnerability and socioeconomic impact assessments, and selection of adaptation strategies.

The RIMAROCC project, which was conducted from 2009-2010, developed a Guidebook with the goal of creating a common transnational method for risk analysis and risk management related to climate change effects on road networks in Europe. The Guidebook presents the RIMAROCC framework for risk management, which consists of seven key steps:

  • Context Analysis: Define the external and internal context for adapting risk management strategies such as regulatory requirements and agency structure and policies that will govern implementation of climate risk management strategies at the particular scale. Articulate objectives, scope, and parameters of the risk management study.  Set the criteria and indicators for evaluating risk.  The Guidebook identifies four scales at which risk-management strategies can be considered:  territorial scale, network scale, section scale, and the structure scale.
  • Risk Identification: Identify sources or factors of risk (hazards/threats), features or functions of assets that can be affected by unwanted events (vulnerabilities), unwanted events and their causes and potential consequences. The Guidebook recommends cooperating with national meteorological services at this stage and through much of the framework process, but also provides detailed risk tables as an alternative. Critical climate parameters for transportation assets identified in the Guidebook include: extreme rainfall, changes in seasonal annual average rainfall, sea level rise, heat waves, drought, snowfall, number of frost days, thaw, extreme wind, fog.
  • Risk Analysis: Develop an understanding of risks identified in step 2, including the probability and consequences to determine the overall magnitude of risk.
  • Risk Evaluation: Compare the magnitude of risk (from step 3) with the risk criteria (developed in step 1) to help identify which risks should be prioritized (e.g. high probability, high consequence); Compare climate-related risk to other types of risk; and Determine which risks are acceptable. Risks should consider all components of the system: pavements, bridges, equipment (road signs, lighting, safety barriers), small hydraulics and drainage, geotechnics, environment, large hydraulics (culverts), sea level. 
  • Risk Mitigation: Identify, appraise, and select options for modifying non-acceptable risks; secure financing; document how adaptation measures will be implemented through creation of an action plan.
  • Action Plans: Finalize adaptation action plans; identify responsible parties, allocate resources, and select performance measures.
  • Monitor: monitor implemented adaptation measures and using knowledge gained to re-plan, if conditions have changed.

The RIMAROCC Guidebook contains detailed information on objectives, outputs, methods, and data collection related to each of these steps, as well as applied examples. The RIMAROCC process is intended to be cyclical, with feedback and stakeholder engagement throughout. The project also developed several case studies separate from the Guidebook that illustrate possible uses of the RIMAROCC method at different scales: structure (e.g. bridge or short road section), section (a longer section of roadway), network (over 1000 km of interconnected roads), and territory (a road network and its associated territory).

Subsequently, in 2013-2014, several European nations and research institutes undertook the “ROADAPT” (Roads for Today, Adapted for Tomorrow) research project to build off of RIMAROCC and develop more detailed assessment methods that fit within the RIMAROCC steps. The ROADAPT Guidelines include five parts:

  • Part A – Guideline on the use of climate change data: This guideline document directs users through steps to obtain climate data that they can use for either a “quickscan” or more detailed risk analysis. It answers questions about available climate data sources and downscaling methods; dealing with uncertainties, missing data, and inconsistencies between countries; using a reference period properly to describe natural variability; etc. This guideline helps inform step 2 of the RIMAROCC framework (risk identification).
  • Part B – Guideline on the “quickscan” preliminary risk assessment: This guideline describes how to use using a semi-quantitative approach that relies on stakeholder participation to identify vulnerabilities and consequences, and develop a preliminary action plan for mitigating risks. The quickscan helps develop an action plan that likely involves conducting a detailed vulnerability assessment and/or socioeconomic impact assessment, which are outlined in the following ROADAPT guidelines. The quickscan engages steps 1 through 5 of the RIMAROCC framework, but in less depth than is necessary for a detailed action plan of adaptation strategies.
  • Part C – Guideline on detailed vulnerability assessment: This guideline describes existing GIS-based tools for assessing vulnerabilities to different climate change threats, as well as proposes a new method known as “ROADAPT VA.” ROADAPT VA calculates vulnerability for a particular climate-related threat independent of probability and consequence. It can be used alone for vulnerability mapping, but for a full risk analysis as with step 3 of the RIMAROCC framework, ROADAPT VA is intended to be used along with ROADAPT Parts A (climate projections) and D (socioeconomic impacts).
  • Part D – Guideline on socioeconomic impact assessment: This guideline directs users on estimating social costs and losses from climate-related threats and events, using travel time as the key indicator for assessing impacts. The guideline proposes evaluating socioeconomic impacts at three levels: network (which only looks at impacts on the network users’ travel time), local territory (measuring wider local impacts on travel time affected by the network disruption), and economic system as a whole (looking at corridor, inter-regional, national, or cross-border impacts and economic activities affected). This guideline fits primarily into analysis step 3 of the RIMAROCC framework.
  • Part E – Guideline on selecting adaptation strategies: This guideline proposes a 10-step process to develop policies and select adaptation strategies. The approach includes a matrix that helps users identify appropriate combinations of policies and measures (e.g. planning, legislation, construction) to take at different stages (prevention, preparation, response, recovery). This guideline supports RIMAROCC step 5, risk mitigation.

To aid in selecting adaptation strategies, the ROADAPT guidelines also include an extensive database of over 500 adaptation measures related to geotechnical and drainage assets, pavements, and traffic management. The adaptation measures are categorized by level of decision-making, and by different timeframes for activity from pro-action and prevention to response and recovery, so that they can be utilized with the policy matrix in ROADAPT Part E to build a comprehensive strategy for adaptation. Finally, ROADAPT will include case studies to test and demonstrate use of the methods developed in the project.

The RIMAROCC project was developed in response to a 2008 research call through ERA-NET ROAD, a European Union Framework program begun in 2006 to share research priorities and budgets across the European National Road Administrations (NRAs). The 2008 research call was entitled “Road owners getting to grips with climate change,” and solicited research projects that would develop knowledge and tools to help European road authorities adapt to climate change. Development of the RIMAROCC Guidebook was led by the Swedish Geotechnical Institute (SGI), a research institute supporting the Swedish Government as an expert agency; Egis, an international engineering and project development consulting group based in France; Deltares, an applied research institute based out of The Netherlands that focuses on water and infrastructure; and the Norwegian Geotechnical Institute (NGI). Funding for the 2008 research call was provided by NRAs from 11 participating nations: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Although the ERA-NET ROAD program has ended, in 2010, the Conference of European Directors of Roads (CEDR) agreed to continue transnational collaboration on road research. In 2012, they issued a research call entitled “Road owners adapting to climate change.” The ROADAPT project was undertaken in response to this call; the project partners are Deltares, SGI, Egis, and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Dutch weather forecasting institute. Funding for the 2012 CEDR research call that produced ROADAPT was provided by Denmark, Germany, Norway, and The Netherlands. The ROADAPT Guideline documents were published in 2015.

 

This Adaptation Clearinghouse entry was prepared with support from the Federal Highway Administration. This entry was last updated on March 30, 2016.

 

Publication Date: May 2015

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