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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.

Overall Summaries:





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

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

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:

Rob Kafalenos
(202) 366-2079

Rob Hyman
(202) 366-5843

Journalists with questions about this project should call FHWA's Office of Public Affairs at 202-366-0660.

Updated: 12/28/2016
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