National Academies Press: OpenBook

Transportation Resilience: Adaptation to Climate Change (2016)

Chapter: Presentation of Third Case Scenario:Drought, Heat, and Extreme Temperatures

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Suggested Citation:"Presentation of Third Case Scenario:Drought, Heat, and Extreme Temperatures." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transportation Resilience: Adaptation to Climate Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24648.
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Page 24
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Suggested Citation:"Presentation of Third Case Scenario:Drought, Heat, and Extreme Temperatures." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Transportation Resilience: Adaptation to Climate Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24648.
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Page 25

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24 SESSION 3 Recovery Michael Meyer, WSP–Parsons Brinckerhoff, Washington, D.C., USA Alan O’Connor, Roughan & O’Donovan and Trinity College Dublin, Ireland André van Lammeren, Rijkswaterstaat, Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, Netherlands Alan McKinnon, Kühne Logistics University, Hamburg, Germany Susanne DesRoches, New York City, New York, USA Richard Wright, University of Maryland, College Park, USA Presentation of third Case sCenario: drought, heat, and extreme temPeratures Michael Meyer and Alan O’Connor Michael Meyer and Alan O’Connor described the third scenario, which focuses on drought, heat, and extreme temperatures. The hypothetical scenario addresses recov- ering from an extreme event. Appendix D contains more information on this scenario. O’Connor used the following quotation from Beatrice Mwangi of World Vision to describe the context for this scenario: In the past it was one big drought every 10 years, then it came to one drought every five years, and now the trends are showing that it will be one every three to five years. So we are in a crisis all right, that is true. . . . But it’s going to be the new norm. So our responses need to appreciate that . . . there is climate change, and it’s going to affect the people that we work with, the communities we serve. O’Connor described drought as a period of below- average precipitation resulting in prolonged shortages of atmospheric, surface, or ground water. He noted that drought is often caused by extreme temperatures last- ing over long periods of time. Possible impacts from drought include water quality degradation and declining water levels. There are also societal and economic con- sequences, as well as cascading effects. Drought results in design and operational impacts for the transportation system. O’Connor reported that this scenario is relevant for both the United States and the EU. For example, in the United States, summertime temperatures that ranked among the hottest 5% from 1950 to 1979 are projected to occur at least 70% of the time during 2035 to 2064. Further, by the end of this century, extreme heat days (1-day events) that have occurred once every 20 years are projected to occur every 2 or 3 years over most of the country. He noted similar trends in Europe, with forecasts for increases in the average annual tempera- ture through the end of the century. He suggested that longer drought periods might lead to increasing risks of mortality, particularly in urban centers and agglomera- tion zones. O’Connor highlighted some of the possible transpor- tation design and operational issues associated with high temperatures. Examples of these impacts included pave- ment and rail buckling, subsidence due to lower ground- water levels, lower river levels, and the safety of workers and travelers in all modes. Meyer reviewed four major themes from the scenario. A first theme is the impact of extreme heat and drought on the transportation system, including the design and operation of all modes. A second theme focuses on the network impacts, such as substitution effects for com- modities and redundancy. A third theme focuses on the multimodal nature of the transportation system, includ- ing road, transit, rail, port, and air, and their interde- pendencies with respect to system redundancy. A fourth

25s e s s i o n 3 : r e c o v e r y theme examines system interdependency issues, such as operating a subway system that depends on a working electrical grid. Meyer described the scenario, which focuses on Metropolis, a major coastal metropolitan area with 8 million inhabitants. Metropolis includes major national transportation links and an extensive urban transporta- tion network. Extreme weather events to date have pre- dominantly related to major storms. Climate change research and planning have focused on sea level rise, storm surge, and flooding. Metropolis University scien- tists have been warning of the possibility of extreme tem- perature effects, but to date public policy and attention have not heeded these warnings. Further, the Metropolis metropolitan planning organization transportation plan addresses extreme weather and flooding, with little focus on high temperatures and drought. Meyer described the various modal agencies involved in this scenario. These include transit, highway, plan- ning, port, and airport agencies. He suggested that one topic for discussion in the breakout groups was the needed multiagency institutional structure for anticipat- ing, responding to, and recovering from extreme weather events. Meyer reported that in the scenario temperatures reach 100°F (38°C) for 30 consecutive days, with the weather service predicting that these extreme temperatures would likely last for at least another month. This condition results in major increases in heat-related deaths. Shel- ters are opened for the homeless and for those without air conditioning. Reservoir levels become dangerously low, and water rationing is instituted. Electricity outages occur, and wildfires break out in the nearby Metropolis National Forest. Meyer noted that transport operations in this sce- nario are affected due to the duration of the event, as well as the corresponding impacts on supporting infra- structure, such as brownouts. Passenger heat-related impacts and a need to allow access to air conditioning for many of the residents of Metropolis become a con- cern for the transit agency. Air conditioning malfunc- tions in transit stations, and 20% of buses are without working air conditioning. Construction projects are delayed, and maintenance issues occur as rail lines and roads buckle. Technology components, including intelligent transportation systems, malfunction due to high temperatures. Barge freight transport is disrupted, resulting in more trucks on the roadways and increases in traffic congestion. Meyer noted that the scenario includes how the extent of societal impacts, resilience, preparedness, and response are widely questioned and discussed in the mainstream and social media. National, state, and metropolitan officials decide to take action from the drought experience. These actions include establish- ing a climate change task force with responsibility to identify vulnerable assets and to perform a com- prehensive examination of design standards to assess their relevance in a future event. Other responsibilities assigned to the task force are developing a strategy to comprehensively monitor asset performance, to iden- tify when stress levels approach dangerous levels, and to prepare contingency plans to respond to heat-related asset stress emergencies. Stockpiling materials for fast response is another responsibility. The task force is also charged with reexamining operations and maintenance procedures to assess needed changes, examining sensi- tive equipment with respect to high temperatures, and identifying strategies for protection. Other responsibili- ties are developing marketing and public information materials to educate system users on how to handle heat-related service disruptions and examining how transport agencies could respond to the human element of system operations. Finally, the task force is directed to consult widely with experts and other authorities with experience of this type of event, perhaps learn- ing from transportation professionals who are already dealing with these types of conditions in other parts of the world. Meyer described some of the issues raised with the event in Metropolis, including preparedness, interde- pendence with other critical infrastructures, cascading effects, and severity of the transport impacts. Other issues focus on the user groups affected, management of the event by various stakeholders, observed levels of resilience, and the level of public attention. Meyer suggested the following questions for discus- sion in the breakout groups: • What are the extreme heat–related stresses that are likely to affect normal transport system operations and ultimately affect other sectors? • What are the steps in an infrastructure vulnerabil- ity assessment related to extreme heat? • How does one identify the interdependencies among different sectors and infrastructure in order to pinpoint potential failures? • How can different modal transport agencies col- laborate and coordinate their responses to extreme heat– related events? • What advances in materials properties are neces- sary to develop materials that can withstand long peri- ods of extreme heat? How can “smart” materials be used to monitor asset condition to identify potential failure due to heat? • What other non-material-related strategies should be considered to protect critical assets from extreme temperatures?

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Transportation Resilience: Adaptation to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events summarizes a symposium held June 16–17, 2016 in Brussels, Belgium. The fourth annual symposium promotes common understanding, efficiencies, and trans-Atlantic cooperation within the international transportation research community while accelerating transport-sector innovation in the European Union (EU) and the United States.

The two-day, invitation-only symposium brought together high-level experts to share their views on disruptions to the transportation system resulting from climate change and extreme weather events. With the goal of fostering trans-Atlantic collaboration in research and deployment, symposium participants discussed the technical, financial, and policy challenges to better plan, design, and operate the transportation network before, during, and after extreme and/or long-term climate events.

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