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To better understand potential climate change impacts on transportation infrastructure and identify adaptation strategies, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) is conducting a comprehensive, multi-phase study of climate change impacts in the Central Gulf Coast region. This region is home to a complex multimodal network of transportation infrastructure and several large population centers, and it plays a critical national economic role in the import and export of oil and gas, agricultural products, and other goods. The study is sponsored by the U.S. DOT's Center for Climate Change and Environmental Forecasting in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and is managed by FHWA.
Phase 1 (completed in 2008) examined the impacts of climate change on transportation infrastructure at a regional scale, investigating risks and impacts on coastal ports, road, air, rail, and public transit systems in the central Gulf Coast, with a study area stretching from Houston/Galveston, Texas, to Mobile, Alabama. The study assessed likely changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, sea level rise, and increasing severity and frequency of tropical storms. Phase 1 then explored how these changes could impact transportation systems. The final report can be found here.
Phase 2 focuses on the Mobile, Alabama region, with the goal of enhancing regional decision makers' ability to understand potential impacts on specific critical components of infrastructure and to evaluate adaptation options. In Mobile, U.S. DOT is assessing the vulnerability of the most critical transportation assets to climate change impacts. U.S. DOT will then develop risk management tools to help transportation system planners, owners, and operators determine which systems and assets to protect and how to do so. The methods and tools developed under Phase 2 are intended to be replicable to other regions throughout the country. Phase 2 is scheduled to be completed in 2013.
Task 1: Assessing Infrastructure for Criticality in Mobile, AL. (September 1, 2011). This memo summarizes the methodology and findings of Task 1, which identified the transportation infrastructure components most critical to the Mobile region. (or PDF, 2.5MB)
Task 2: (November 8, 2012) The work in Task 2 includes development of climate projections for Mobile and an assessment of the sensitivity of transportation assets to climate change and extreme weather. Both sets of information are used in the vulnerability assessment (in Task 3).
Task 3: (June 2014) Task 3 comprises the vulnerability assessment of Mobile's transportation system, including a vulnerability screen of the system and detailed engineering assessments of specific facilities.
For Further Information
For further information regarding the project, please contact:
Journalists with questions about this project should call FHWA's Office of Public Affairs at 202-366-0660.