Gulf Coast Study
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The groundbreaking U.S. DOT Gulf Coast Study produced tools and lessons learned that transportation agencies across the country are using to assess vulnerabilities and build resilience to climate change. Phase 2 was completed in 2015, Phase 1 in 2008.
- 4 page Summary of Gulf Coast Study Phase 2 (HTML) or (PDF 2.3 MB)
- 4 page Summary of Gulf Coast Study Phase 1 and 2 (HTML)
- Summaries of asset specific assessments and summaries by steps of project (HTML).
- Vulnerability Assessment Tools
- Sensitivity Matrix (Excel file) (2015) - Spreadsheet tool that documents the sensitivity of roads, bridges, airports, ports, pipelines, and rail to 11 climate impacts.
- Guide to Assessing Criticality in Transportation Adaptation Planning (HTML or PDF, 949KB) (2015) - Discusses common challenges associated with assessing criticality, options for defining criticality and identifying scope, and the process of applying criteria and ranking assets.
- CMIP Climate Data Processing Tool (March 2016) User Guide (also in PDF, 2.5MB), Tool for CMIP3 Data (Excel file, 23.7MB), Tool for CMIP5 Data (Excel file, 60.9MB) - Spreadsheet tool that processes raw climate model outputs at the local level from the World Climate Research Programme's Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP) CMIP3 and CMIP5 databases into relevant statistics for transportation planners, including changes in the frequency of very hot days and extreme precipitation events.
- Vulnerability Assessment Scoring Tool (June 2015) User Guide (also in PDF, 1.5MB), Tool (Excel file, 2MB) - Spreadsheet tool that guides the user through conducting a quantitative, indicator-based vulnerability screen. Intended for agencies assessing how components of their transportation system may be vulnerable to climate stressors.
- Synthesis of Lessons Learned and Methods Applied in Phase 2 (HTML or PDF, 1.8 MB) - Summarizes lessons learned, methodologies, tools, and areas for future work.
- Criticality Assessment. Summary (HTML or PDF 772 KB). Full Report (HTML or PDF 2.5 MB) - Identifies the transportation infrastructure components most critical to the Mobile region for the study.
- Climate Projections and Sensitivity Assessment. Summary (HTML or PDF 590 KB). Full Reports and Appendices (HTML) - Climate projections developed for Mobile and the sensitivity of transportation assets to climate change and extreme weather.
- Vulnerability Assessment. Summary (HTML or PDF 647 KB). Full Reports and Appendices (HTML) - Vulnerability screen of the Mobile transportation system.
- Engineering Assessment of Adaptation Options. Summary of Process (HTML or PDF 1.2 MB) Summaries of asset specific assessments (HTML). Full Report (HTML or PDF 16.8 MB) - Detailed engineering assessments of specific transportation facilities.
- Gulf Coast Study, Phase I Report - Complete Phase 1 report.
- Webcast Launch - January 22, 2015 national webcast launching the tools developed through the study and sharing study key findings.
- Interactive Map. Shows vulnerability for selected transportation assets in Mobile, Alabama for different climate stressors and scenarios. Click on an individual asset in the map for more detailed information.
- Webinar Series: Building a Climate Resilient Transportation System, February - April, 2015.
- Adaptation Framework. A guidebook and online resource detailing key steps and in-practice examples for assessing vulnerability and improving resilience of transportation systems. Contains tools, case studies, videos and other resources.
- Videos. A series of videos stepping users through stages of vulnerability assessment and adaptation analysis. Features speakers from state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and FHWA.
To better understand potential climate change impacts on transportation infrastructure and identify adaptation strategies, the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT) conducted 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. This multi-modal 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 focused 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 assessed the vulnerability of the most critical transportation assets to climate change impacts. U.S. DOT then developed 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. In fact, several state departments of transportation and metropolitan planning organizations used pre-release versions of these tools in climate resilience pilots. Phase 2 was publicly released on January 22, 2015 in a live webcast.
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.