U.S. Department of Transportation CMIP Climate Data Processing Tool

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) Climate Data Processing Tool provides readily available downscaled climate data in a format that is relevant and useful for transportation planners at a local level. The tool, which is in Excel format, processes raw climate model output to produce projections that are meaningful for transportation planners to consider design or operational changes needed to create transportation infrastructure and services that are more resilient to climate change impacts. For example, the tool can identify projected changes in the frequency and severity of extreme heat days and precipitation events at mid-century and 2100 for a given geographic location.

Proper use of the tool requires transportation practitioners to complete three broad steps:

  • Download Data – Identify and download the appropriate climate data, including geographic location, models, and emissions scenario(s).
  • Process Data – Use the CMIP Climate Data Processing Tool Excel file to process climate data into specific temperature and precipitation variables.
  • Interpret Data – Review the results and apply them to decision-making.

Users identify which climate data to use with the tool by checking the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's downscaled CMIP3 and CMIP5 Climate and Hydrology Projections (DCHP) website, which includes raw climate modeled data from phase 3 and phase 5 of the World Research Programme's Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP). To process the data into relevant statistics, users select one of the Excel-based tools depending on the climate data selected (i.e. either the CMIP3 tool or the CMIP5 tool). The tool also includes a User Guide to help walk users through the process of selecting and downloading, processing, and interpreting the data for use in transportation decision-making.

The tool was produced and refined as a result of Phase 2 of the U.S. DOT's Gulf Coast Study, which involved the development of this and several other tools to assist transportation agencies across the U.S. with assessing vulnerabilities and evaluating adaptation strategies for infrastructure; and testing of these tools through a detailed vulnerability assessment of transportation infrastructure in the Mobile, Alabama region. The tool can be used by transportation agencies while undertaking the steps outlined in FHWA's Virtual Framework for Vulnerability Assessment.


Securely archived weblinks the CMIP3 or CMIP5 Excel tools are available here:

CMIP3 tool: https://web.archive.org/web/20170125184237/https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/sustainability/resilience/adaptation_framework/modules/user_guide/cmip3_climate_data_processing_tool.xlsm;

CMIP5 tool: https://web.archive.org/web/20170111170801/http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/environment/sustainability/resilience/adaptation_framework/modules/user_guide/cmip5_climate_data_processing_tool.xlsm.

Publication Date: March 2016

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Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Climate science
  • Modeling tool


  • Air temperature
  • Precipitation changes

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