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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Airport Climate Adaptation and Resilience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22773.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Airport Climate Adaptation and Resilience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22773.
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Suggested Citation:"Summary." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2012. Airport Climate Adaptation and Resilience. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/22773.
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Hotter days, heavier rainfall, increased snow and ice, and more intense storms are some of the direct impacts airports may experience from climate change. Very few airports, however, are considering ways to address these effects. Yet 70% of airport delays are the result of extreme weather, and such weather events are on the increase. In 2011, the United States witnessed a record 12 weather/climate disasters, each costing $1 billion or more. Such events grab headlines that, combined with attendant flight delays, come to the attention of policymakers. Quite often, how airports respond to these events influences future planning. By defining and more explicitly addressing the risks that climate change now presents to air travel, airports can extend and enhance the benefits from present day investments in maintenance, data collection, and capital improvements. For example, in 2011 Tropical Storm Irene closed all major New York airports. Although not a hurricane, but recording 5 to 8 in. of rain, the storm generated news that certain categories of hurricanes would put JFK International Airport under more than 15 ft of water. That very substantial risk is known and understood by the airport. However, few U.S. airports can identify how the varied risks from climate change will affect their assets and operations. Climate effects vary and their risks pose a diverse set of issues for airports. In some places, increases in precipitation will not only flood runways but overwhelm stormwater systems, implicating water quality compliance. Elsewhere, warmer weather may damage aircraft tires and tarmac. The projected increases in severe winter storms may create a “new normal” for airports unaccustomed to increased snow removal requirements. Airports are diverse and complex. They vary in their size, capacity, and in the services they provide and the assets they need to protect. Airports have runways, taxiways, aprons, aviation signage, access roads, bridges, walkways, energy, telecommunications, security systems, pipelines, and other infrastructure. Tenants, vendors, and others own property and equipment that also need protection. All of these assets can be affected by different climate change effects, such as heat, intense precipitation, extreme storm events, and new wild- life patterns. Beyond airside and landside assets and operations, airports provide key links for other transportation modes and support regional economies. During an extreme weather event, an airport may provide shelter, support for aviation in disaster relief, and other essen- tials. When airports in one state or country deal with a climate risk, many other airports, both nationally and globally, are affected. Research on the transportation sector’s resilience and adaptation to climate change has been on the increase for over a decade; however, there is very little research specifically on airports. This report presents findings of first impression, collected in 2011, including results of what appears to be the first formal and voluntary sur- vey of airport practices for addressing climate risks. The objective of this synthesis is to provide airport administrators and their technical managers with a document that reviews the range of risks to airports from projected climate change and the emerging approaches for handling these risks. To gather relevant information on current practices, primary and secondary literature was reviewed. In addition, 16 air- ports were surveyed, supplying a profile of emerging practices and identifying personnel Summary airport Climate adaptation and reSilienCe

2 for subsequent interviews. From this information, a summary of likely climate effects and response actions was developed. The literature review, survey, and interviews were also used to identify the ways decision makers and their stake holders use general information on climate effects and potential adaptation measures to define, plan for, and otherwise address climate risks to their own situation, including to their assets and operations. Detailed case examples were prepared to capture several distinct approaches to airport climate change resilience and adaptation. At Oakland International Airport, planners and engineers included sea level rise as a factor in the design changes being developed to address compliance with new runway safety area requirements, seismic risk, and post-Hurricane Katrina dike standards. At Toronto Pearson International Airport, the head of Environmental Systems Management used his engineering profession’s model climate change vulnerability assessment protocol as a tool for considering climate risk in storm water system reviews and water quality regulatory compliance activi- ties. These activities were conducted without an overarching adaptation strategy. In Atlanta, Jacksonville, and San Diego, airports are putting into place the awareness-raising processes, research, and procedures that will be the foundation to the adoption of a climate adaptation strategy and its incorporation into airport planning. In Alaska, planning efforts on airport resilience and adaptation have matured in the face of real climate impacts. The survey conducted for this Synthesis report found that most airport managers believed disruptions from weather events were increasing. A majority also believed that emergency procedures could handle climate risks, whereas fewer believed that irregular operations pro- cesses were a satisfactory means for addressing them. Although risk management systems have been identified as a key method for addressing climate change, this approach had not yet become formal practice at U.S. airports. Research does indicate that some airports are follow- ing the high-level, iterative planning cycle for climate change adaptation that many sources commonly advocate—beginning with identification of relevant climate impacts, assessment of vulnerabilities, high-level identification of risks, development and implementation of a plan, and monitoring and revisiting earlier decisions based on new information. Other airports have asset management and environmental systems management staff who are determining their own course of action, such as researching best practices in light of the climate risks they saw. Key drivers for addressing climate risk at airports were: • Severe weather events and related costs • Awareness raised from sustainability and greenhouse gas mitigation activities • Model adaptation guidance prepared by a professional society in a technical field • Executive leaders serving as advocates • Internal organizational champions serving as advocates • Professional judgment of staff • Participation in state, regional, and local adaptation planning efforts • Federal grants and planning frameworks. Insurance and bonding requirements may be an emerging driver as well, but were not cited as much as the others. A barrier to more complete coordination with other stakeholders is the quasi-independent status of airports in most locations except Alaska. Where a government has little direct management control over airport operations, there is likely to be less influence over airport adaptation. In some places, local stakeholder-driven adaptation planning has increased participation by airports, which has resulted in awareness raising and consideration of climate risk.

3 There is a considerable amount of literature and guidance on the impacts of climate change, resilience, and adaptation, but very little specifically on how it relates to airports. However, new resources in the general topic area are continually emerging. The findings here reflect one snapshot in time in 2011. This synthesis intends to provide both a baseline of relevant informa- tion for an airport beginning to consider climate change and a springboard for further research into an airport’s risks under climate change and the resilience and adaptation measures that can provide an efficient and effective response.

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TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Synthesis 33: Airport Climate Adaptation and Resilience reviews the range of risks to airports from projected climate change and the emerging approaches for handling them.

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