National Academies Press: OpenBook

Airport Climate Adaptation and Resilience (2012)

Chapter: Chapter One - Introduction

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Suggested Citation:"Chapter One - Introduction." 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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Page 4
Page 5
Suggested Citation:"Chapter One - Introduction." 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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Page 5

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5 Objective The objective of this synthesis was to identify the risks to airports from climate change and, using case examples and supplementary review, describe the activities airports are taking to address these risks. Very few U.S. airports are currently considering ways to address the effects of climate change, although 70% of air- port delays are the result of severe weather, and such weather events are on the increase. In 2011, the United States saw a record 12 weather/climate disasters costing at least $1 billion each. How airports respond to these events can inform debates over future planning. By defining and more explicitly address- ing the risks that climate change present to airports, they can extend and enhance the benefits from present day investments in maintenance, data collection, and capital improvements. RepORt ORganizatiOn This report’s intended audience is airport directors and their technical managers who are interested in airport-relevant information on the risks from climate change and what their peers are doing to address such risks. Case examples from airports therefore appear upfront, and a comprehensive chart of climate effects is presented in the report text, for easy review and reference. The chapter two case examples detail the evolving practices at airport facilities in the United States and Canada. Chapter three summarizes in chart form the likely climate change effects at airports and some measures for addressing them. It also reviews the trends observed in a survey on cli- mate change adaptation practices. Chapter four provides a sample list of the physical, busi- ness, security, and financial risks implicated by the climate change effects listed in the chapter three chart. The remain- der of chapter four presents the results of a review of the following subject areas: • A short overview of climate science, a sampling of potential climate risks to airports, and ways to manage its uncertainties about these risks. • Actual climate adaptation and resilience activities under- way in the United States. • Climate risk identification and prioritization. • Financing mechanisms to address climate risks. • Formal incorporation of climate risk considerations into airport planning. Chapter five concludes with observations, findings, knowl- edge gaps, and suggestions for further research. Study MethOdS There were three key study elements: • A literature review of reports, guidance, interviews, studies, and other work reflecting the emerging meth- ods for evaluating climate risks and developing adapta- tion and resilience options. • A survey of airports designed to capture information about current capacity at airports to address disruptions from weather-related events, risks anticipated under climate change, and approaches for managing them. The survey was sent to 20 airports and 16 responded (an 80% response rate). • Case examples based on survey replies and research as validated and enhanced by interviews. This Synthesis report was supported by a panel of experts from multiple disciplines, including aviation, planning, engi- neering, the environment, and the law. Several topic panel members are responsible for the operation and management of certain major airports in the United States. teRMinOlOgy and Key definitiOnS This Synthesis report uses the following definitions from a major study on climate change adaptation sponsored by the U.S.DOT (CCSP 2008). • Exposure: the combination of stress associated with climate-related change and the probability or likelihood that this stress will affect transportation infrastructure. chapter one intROductiOn

6 • Vulnerability: the structural strength and integrity of key facilities or systems and the resulting potential for damage and disruption in transportation services from climate change stressors. • Resilience: the capacity of a system to absorb distur- bances and retain essential processes. • Adaptation: a decision that stakeholders can make in response to perceptions or objective measurements of vulnerability or exposure. Included in this concept is the recognition that thresholds exist where a stimulus leads to a significant response. These definitions are provided because their emphasis is on the transportation sector; however, they are very similar to defi- nitions used outside the transportation sector (see, e.g., Carter et al. 2007). A short glossary is included before the References.

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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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