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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD SPECIAL REPORT 290 Potential Impacts of CLIMATE CHANGE on U.S. Transportation Committee on Climate Change and U.S. Transportation Transportation Research Board Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Transportation Research Board Washington, D.C. 2008 www.TRB.org
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation Transportation Research Board Special Report 290 Subscriber Category IB energy and environment Transportation Research Board publications are available by ordering individual publications directly from the TRB Business Office, through the Internet at www.TRB.org or national-academies.org/trb, or by annual subscription through organizational or individual affiliation with TRB. Affiliates and library subscribers are eligible for substantial discounts. For further information, contact the Transportation Research Board Business Office, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20001 (telephone 202-334-3213; fax 202-334-2519; or e-mail TRBsales@nas.edu). Copyright 2008 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competencies and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to the procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This report was sponsored by the Transportation Research Board, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Transit Cooperative Research Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Cover and inside design by Tony Olivis, Studio 2 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on Climate Change and U.S. Transportation. Potential impacts of climate change on U.S. transportation / Committee on Climate Change and U.S. Transportation, Transportation Research Board and Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies. p. cm.—(Transportation Research Board special report ; 290) Includes bibliographical references. 1. Transportation—Climatic factors—United States. 2. Transportation engineering—United States. 3. Climatic changes—Government policy—United States. 4. Global warming—Environmental aspects. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Division on Earth and Life Studies. II. Title. TA1023.N38 2008 388.0973—dc22 2008008264 ISBN 978-0-309-11306-9
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. On the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both the Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Transportation Research Board is one of six major divisions of the National Research Council. The mission of the Transportation Research Board is to provide leadership in transportation innovation and progress through research and information exchange, conducted within a setting that is objective, interdisciplinary, and multimodal. The Board’s varied activities annually engage about 7,000 engineers, scientists, and other transportation researchers and practitioners from the public and private sectors and academia, all of whom contribute their expertise in the public interest. The program is supported by state transportation departments, federal agencies including the component administrations of the U.S. Department of Transportation, and other organizations and individuals interested in the development of transportation. www.TRB.org www.national-academies.org
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation TRANSPORTATION RESEARCH BOARD 2008 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE* Chair: Debra L. Miller, Secretary, Kansas Department of Transportation, Topeka Vice Chair: Adib K. Kanafani, Cahill Professor of Civil Engineering, University of California, Berkeley Executive Director: Robert E. Skinner, Jr., Transportation Research Board J. Barry Barker, Executive Director, Transit Authority of River City, Louisville, Kentucky Allen D. Biehler, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, Harrisburg John D. Bowe, President, Americas Region, APL Limited, Oakland, California Larry L. Brown, Sr., Executive Director, Mississippi Department of Transportation, Jackson Deborah H. Butler, Executive Vice President, Planning, and CIO, Norfolk Southern Corporation, Norfolk, Virginia William A. V. Clark, Professor, Department of Geography, University of California, Los Angeles David S. Ekern, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Transportation, Richmond Nicholas J. Garber, Henry L. Kinnier Professor, Department of Civil Engineering, University of Virginia, Charlottesville Jeffrey W. Hamiel, Executive Director, Metropolitan Airports Commission, Minneapolis, Minnesota Edward A. (Ned) Helme, President, Center for Clean Air Policy, Washington, D.C. Will Kempton, Director, California Department of Transportation, Sacramento Susan Martinovich, Director, Nevada Department of Transportation, Carson City Michael D. Meyer, Professor, School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta (Past Chair, 2006) Michael R. Morris, Director of Transportation, North Central Texas Council of Governments, Arlington Neil J. Pedersen, Administrator, Maryland State Highway Administration, Baltimore Pete K. Rahn, Director, Missouri Department of Transportation, Jefferson City Sandra Rosenbloom, Professor of Planning, University of Arizona, Tucson Tracy L. Rosser, Vice President, Corporate Traffic, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, Arkansas Rosa Clausell Rountree, Executive Director, Georgia State Road and Tollway Authority, Atlanta Henry G. (Gerry) Schwartz, Jr., Chairman (retired), Jacobs/Sverdrup Civil, Inc., St. Louis, Missouri C. Michael Walton, Ernest H. Cockrell Centennial Chair in Engineering, University of Texas, Austin (Past Chair, 1991) * Membership as of June 2008.
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation Linda S. Watson, CEO, LYNX–Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority, Orlando (Past Chair, 2007) Steve Williams, Chairman and CEO, Maverick Transportation, Inc., Little Rock, Arkansas Thad Allen (Adm., U.S. Coast Guard), Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) Joseph H. Boardman, Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) Rebecca M. Brewster, President and COO, American Transportation Research Institute, Smyrna, Georgia (ex officio) Paul R. Brubaker, Administrator, Research and Innovative Technology Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) George Bugliarello, Chancellor, Polytechnic University of New York, Brooklyn; Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Engineering, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) Sean T. Connaughton, Administrator, Maritime Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) LeRoy Gishi, Chief, Division of Transportation, Bureau of Indian Affairs, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) Edward R. Hamberger, President and CEO, Association of American Railroads, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) John H. Hill, Administrator, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) John C. Horsley, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) Carl T. Johnson, Administrator, Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) J. Edward Johnson, Director, Applied Science Directorate, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, John C. Stennis Space Center, Mississippi (ex officio) William W. Millar, President, American Public Transportation Association, Washington, D.C. (ex officio) (Past Chair, 1992) Nicole R. Nason, Administrator, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) James Ray, Acting Administrator, Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) James S. Simpson, Administrator, Federal Transit Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) Robert A. Sturgell, Acting Administrator, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation (ex officio) Robert L. Van Antwerp (Lt. General, U.S. Army), Chief of Engineers and Commanding General, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington, D.C. (ex officio)
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation Division on Earth and Life Studies Climate Research Committee Antonio J. Busalacchi, Jr., University of Maryland, College Park, Chair Ana P. Barros, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina Cecilia Bitz, University of Washington, Seattle James A. Coakley, Jr., Oregon State University, Corvallis Gabriele Hegerl, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom Henry D. Jacoby, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Anthony C. Janetos, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/University of Maryland, College Park Robert J. Lempert, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, California Roger B. Lukas, University of Hawaii, Honolulu Linda O. Mearns, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado Gerald A. Meehl, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado Joyce E. Penner, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Richard Richels, Electric Power Research Institute, Washington, D.C. Taro Takahashi, Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory, Palisades, New York Lonnie G. Thompson, Ohio State University, Columbus
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation Committee on Climate Change and U.S. Transportation Henry G. Schwartz, Jr., Sverdrup/Jacobs Civil, Inc. (retired), St. Louis, Missouri, Chair Alan C. Clark, Houston–Galveston Area Council, Houston, Texas G. Edward Dickey, Loyola College in Maryland, Baltimore George C. Eads, CRA International, Washington, D.C. Robert E. Gallamore, Gallamore Group, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware Genevieve Giuliano, University of Southern California, Los Angeles William J. Gutowski, Jr., Iowa State University, Ames Randell H. Iwasaki, California Department of Transportation, Sacramento Klaus H. Jacob, Columbia University, Palisades, New York Thomas R. Karl, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Asheville, North Carolina Robert J. Lempert, Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, California Luisa M. Paiewonsky, Massachusetts Highway Department, Boston S. George H. Philander, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey (through December 2006) Christopher R. Zeppie, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, New York City National Research Council Staff Nancy P. Humphrey, Study Director, Transportation Research Board Amanda C. Staudt, Senior Program Officer, Division on Earth and Life Studies (through February 28, 2007)
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation Preface Leading scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change published their fourth assessment of the state of knowledge about climate change and its impacts in spring 2007. They reached consensus that human activity is responsible for many observed climate changes, particularly the warming temperatures of the last several decades, and concluded that there is a need for far more extensive adaptation than is currently occurring to reduce vulnerability to future climate changes. In September 2007, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report examining the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, which oversees federal research on climate change in the United States. The report noted that understanding of the physical climate system has progressed rapidly but that the use of this knowledge to support decision making, manage risks, and engage stakeholders is inadequate. The transportation sector is a good case in point. Little consensus exists among transportation professionals that climate change is occurring or warrants action now. Addressing climate change requires an examination of plausible future scenarios, a long-term perspective, the capacity to deal with uncertain and changing information, and responses that may extend beyond jurisdictional boundaries and transportation modal responsibilities. These are significant challenges for transportation professionals. This report is intended to help illuminate the nature of the potential impacts of climate change of greatest relevance for U.S. transportation and to suggest appropriate adaptation strategies and organizational responses.
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation This study was requested by the Executive Committee of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and was conducted with the Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS). It was funded by a broad range of organizations, including TRB, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), the Transit Cooperative Research Program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. TRB and DELS formed a committee of 13 members comprising experts in climate science, meteorology, transportation planning and engineering, transportation operations and maintenance, risk analysis, and economics to conduct the study.1 The committee was chaired by Henry G. Schwartz, Jr., retired president and chairman of Sverdrup/Jacobs Civil, Inc., and member of the National Academy of Engineering. To carry out its charge, the committee reviewed the literature in the field, requested numerous briefings, commissioned five papers to explore various aspects of the potential impacts of climate change on U.S. transportation, and held a 1-day conference to explore these issues with a broader audience. The commissioned papers provided the committee with important information on various aspects of the impacts of climate change on transportation. The first paper, by Thomas C. Peterson, Marjorie McGuirk, Andrew H. Horvitz, and Tamara Houston of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Michael F. Wehner of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, helped set the stage by identifying the climate factors of greatest relevance for transportation, summarizing current understanding of projected climate changes for various U.S. regions, and describing potential impacts on transportation. A paper by Michael D. Meyer of the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology examines the role of transportation design standards in light of potential impacts from climate change. A third paper, by Stephen C. Lockwood of Parsons Brinckerhoff, reviews operational strategies for addressing climate change. A fourth paper, by Lance R. Grenzeback of Cambridge Systematics, Inc., and Andrew Lukmann of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology—a case study of the transportation sector’s response to and recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita—examines the vulnerabili- 1 George Philander, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, participated as a member of the committee through 2006, when he resigned because of extended foreign travel and new commitments.
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation ties and strengths of various transportation modes in the event of a shock to the system. A final paper, by James A. Dewar and Martin Wachs of the Rand Corporation,2 provides a survey of approaches to decision making under uncertainty, drawing on examples from other sectors and suggesting possible new approaches for transportation planning and decision making. The papers were reviewed by the committee and discussants at a 1-day conference (see next paragraph) and revised by the authors. They are listed in Appendix C. Because of their length and printing costs, the papers are available only in electronic form. The reader is cautioned that the interpretations and conclusions contained in the papers are those of the authors. The key findings endorsed by the committee appear in the body of the report. The committee recognizes that five papers cannot cover the full range of issues facing the transportation sector as it begins to consider the potential impacts of climate change. Thus, a conference was held midway through the study to examine the papers with a broader audience of climate scientists and academicians and practitioners from all transportation modes and to engage the transportation community in particular in considering the potential impacts of climate change. Each paper was presented and critiqued by a commentator, followed by discussion by the authors and invited participants. The conference concluded with a summary by two rapporteurs—one from the climate science and one from the transportation community. Of the 144 individuals invited to the conference, 51 attended. Their names and affiliations, along with the conference agenda, can be found in Appendix D. The commentary and critiques of conference participants were considered in both finalizing the authored papers and preparing this final report. The committee also supplemented its expertise with briefings at its meetings from a wide range of experts. In particular, the committee thanks Eric J. Barron, Distinguished Professor of Geosciences and Dean of the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, Pennsylvania State University (now at the University of Texas at Austin), who provided the committee with an overview of the scientific consensus on climate change, continuing uncertainties, and implications for transportation. The committee also thanks Michael Savonis, Team Leader for Air Quality, 2 The authors both work for the Rand Corporation, but the paper was prepared by the authors as individuals.
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and Joanne Potter, Senior Associate, Cambridge Systematics, Inc., for their briefing on the Gulf Coast Study sponsored by USDOT and the U.S. Geological Survey—an in-depth look at the potential impacts of climate change in this vulnerable region; Paul Pisano, Team Leader, FHWA, for his presentation on the U.S. Surface Weather Research Program; Ian Buckle, Director of the Center for Civil Engineering Earthquake Research, University of Nevada at Reno, for his briefing on the development of earthquake standards and the relevance of this effort to the revision of transportation design standards to address the potential impacts of climate change; Mark Hinsdale, Assistant Vice President, Capacity Management and Network Planning, CSX Corporation, for his overview of the impacts of Hurricane Katrina on rail infrastructure; and Lourdes Maurice, Chief Scientific and Technical Advisor for Environment, and Mohan Gupta, Operations Research Analyst, Federal Aviation Administration, for their overview of potential impacts of climate change on the aviation system. This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that assist the authors and NRC in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The content of the review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. The committee thanks the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: John J. Boland, Johns Hopkins University (retired), Baltimore, Maryland; William R. Black, Indiana University, Bloomington; Virginia Burkett, U.S. Geological Survey, Many, Louisiana; Isaac M. Held, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey; George M. Hornberger, University of Virginia, Charlottesville; Roger E. Kasperson, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts; Margaret A. LeMone, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado; Ananth Prasad, Florida Department of Transportation, Tallahassee; and Michael J. Scott, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, Washington. Although the reviewers listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the committee’s conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Susan Hanson, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, and C. Michael Walton, University of Texas at Austin. Appointed by NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. Nancy P. Humphrey of TRB, together with Amanda C. Staudt of DELS, managed the study.3 Ms. Humphrey drafted major portions of the final report under the guidance of the committee and the supervision of Stephen R. Godwin, Director of Studies and Special Programs at TRB, and Chris Elfring, Program Director at DELS. Ms. Staudt drafted Chapter 2, which provides an overview of the current state of knowledge about climate change and its potential impacts; committee members Thomas R. Karl and William J. Gutowski, Jr., made substantial revisions. Committee member George C. Eads wrote Appendix B, which summarizes the contribution of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions to climate change and reviews potential strategies for mitigating these impacts. Suzanne Schneider, Associate Executive Director of TRB, managed the report review process. Special appreciation is expressed to Rona Briere, who edited the report. Jennifer Weeks prepared the final manuscript and the commissioned papers for posting; Norman Solomon provided final editorial guidance; and Juanita Green managed the book design and production under the supervision of Javy Awan, Director of Publications. Amelia Mathis assisted with meeting arrangements and communications with committee members, Laura Toth helped with conference arrangements, and Alisa Decatur provided word processing support for preparation of the final manuscript. 3 Ms. Staudt left DELS in February 2007 to join the World Wildlife Federation. Thereafter, Ian Kraucunas and Curtis Marshall of DELS provided assistance with the study.
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation Contents Summary 1 1 Introduction 21 Study Charge, Scope, and Audience 23 Why Climate Change Matters 28 Study Approach and Key Issues 29 Organization of the Report 33 2 Understanding Climate Change 36 Overview of Global Climate Change 36 Climate Changes Relevant to U.S. Transportation 49 Findings 72 3 Impacts of Climate Change on Transportation 79 Vulnerability of the Transportation System to Climate Change 79 Potential Impacts by Transportation Mode 83 Review of Assessments for Particular Areas or Regions 92 Findings 112 Annex 3-1: Potential Climate Changes and Impacts on Transportation 117 4 Challenges to Response 124 Decision Making in the Transportation Sector 124 Challenges Posed by Climate Change 131
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Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation A Decision Framework for Addressing Climate Change 135 Findings 141 Annex 4-1: Applying Probabilistic Risk Assessment to Climate Change and Transportation 143 5 Meeting the Challenges 148 Adaptation Strategies 149 Crosscutting Issues 163 Findings 170 Annex 5-1A: Potential Climate Changes, Impacts on Land Transportation, and Adaptation Options 175 Annex 5-1B: Potential Climate Changes, Impacts on Marine Transportation, and Adaptation Options 181 Annex 5-1C: Potential Climate Changes, Impacts on Air Transportation, and Adaptation Options 185 6 Summing Up 189 Which Climate Changes Are Most Relevant for U.S. Transportation? 189 How Will Climate Change Affect U.S. Transportation? 190 How Should Transportation Decision Makers Respond? 193 What Data and Decision Support Tools Are Needed? 195 Which Adaptation Strategies Make Sense? 197 What Actions and Research Are Needed to Prepare for Climate Change? 207 Appendices A Detailed Statement of Task 209 B Contribution of U.S. Transportation Sector to Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Assessment of Mitigation Strategies 210 C Commissioned Papers and Authors 267 D Conference Agenda and Participants 268 Study Committee Biographical Information 273