Archive for the ‘transportation’ Category

Transportation: Getting Around in a Changing World

March 13, 2008

The National Academies has just released a new study: Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation . The study notes that transportation planners are still using historical data to guide their operations and investments.

“Transportation professionals should acknowledge the challenges posed by climate change and incorporate current scientific knowledge into the planning, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of transportation systems. Every mode of transportation and every region in the United States will be affected as climate change poses new and often unfamiliar challenges to infrastructure providers.”

The scientists down in Antarctica studying glacier melt note that the new IPCC report didn’t take Greenland or Antarctic glacier melt into consideration in their rising sea level projection. Studies have already come out, warning that the IPCC projection was much too conservative.

Scientists are funny people. A person has to listen closely to what they’re saying, and what they’re not saying. Scientists who are studying the West Antarctic Ice Sheet say that if it succumbs to warming, the oceans will rise from 3 to 5 meters. They talk in shocked tones about how quickly the WAIS is melting from underneath. They caution that more research needs to be done, a decade of research, and that few people have a clear understanding of the play between the Antarctic atmosphere and ocean.

The National Academies advise transportation professionals: “Climate warming over the next 50 to 100 years will be manifested by increases in very hot days and heat waves, increases in Arctic temperatures, rising sea levels coupled with storm surges and land subsidence, more frequent intense precipitation events, and increases in the intensity of strong hurricanes…

Potentially, the greatest impact of climate change on North America’s transportation system will be flooding of coastal roads, railways, transit systems, and runways because of a global rise in sea level coupled with storm surge and exacerbated in some locations by land subsidence. The vulnerability of transportation infrastructure to climate change, however, will extend well beyond coastal areas…

USDOT should take a leadership role along with professional organizations in the forefront of civil engineering practice across all modes to initiate immediately a federally funded, multiagency research program.…Federal agencies have not focused generally on adaptation in addressing climate change.”