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The Surface Transportation Environment.and Planning Cooperative Research Program.

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Office of Planning, Environment and Realty's (HEP) Surface Transportation Environment and Planning Cooperative Research Program (STEP) ended on September 30, 2012. For current HEP research information, please see HEP's research web site.



"Air Quality and Climate Change"

September 28, 2010
12:00p.m. to 1:30p.m.

Webinar Moderator

Lisa Colbert, Acting Team Leader

Research and Financial Service Team

FHWA Office of Human Environment

Webinar Housekeeping Tips

Welcome and Overview

What is STEP?

Who Gets STEP Money?

Stakeholder Involvement

Outreach and stakeholder feedback are used to refine and implement national research agenda

STEP Feedback and Submitting Lines of Research

STEP Emphasis Areas

Click image for text description.

STEP Emphasis Areas for Today

Air Quality and Climate Change Emphasis Area Overview

Cecilia Ho, Team Leader

Air Quality and Transportation Conformity Team

FHWA Office of Natural Environment

Transportation and Air Quality

Climate Change and Transportation

Sustainable Highways

Research Outreach & Communications

STEP Funding for Air Quality and Climate Change Research

MOVES Implementation

Cecilia Ho FHWA Office of Natural Environment

FHWA logo


Kanok Boriboonsomsin, Ph.D., P.E.

Center for Environmental Research and Technology, University of California

UC Riverside, University of California logo

MOVES Implementation

Advances in Project Level Analysis (Pechan)

Improving Vehicle Fleet, Activity, and Emissions Data for On-Road Mobile Sources Emissions Inventories (UC Riverside)

Modifying Link-Level Emissions Modeling Procedures for Applications within the MOVES Framework (Eastern Research Group (ERG))

MOVES and Its Implementation


New input data format & requirements → e.g. extended idling

Ongoing Research at UC Riverside

Vehicle Fleet Distribution Data

Flow chart. Click image for text description


In project-level analysis (e.g. at multi-modal terminals), vehicle fleet is unique and needs to be characterized properly.

Heavy-Duty Truck Activity Data


Issues: And what about off-network activity & extended idling?

Nationwide Truck Telemetry Data

Heavy-Duty Truck Emission Factors

Expected Products of Research

National Near Road MSAT Study

Victoria Martinez

Air Quality and Transportation Conformity Team

FHWA Office of Natural Environment

FHWA logo

Sue Kimbrough

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

United States Environmental Protection Agency

Program Background

Monitoring Protocol

EPA Interagency Agreement & Pooled Fund

More Information


EPA/FHWA Near Road Collaboration Project

Top left:  Cars, trucks and a bus forming traffic congestion on the highway. Bottom right: Trucks and vehicles on an open highway.

EPA/FHWA Near Road Team Members

Project Team:

Why are we involved in this project? ---Key Science Questions ---

What do we hope to get out of this effort?

Outcomes Stakeholders
Provide FHWA with data necessary to comply with Settlement Agreement. FHWA
Understanding the relationship between traffic, meteorology and near road air quality FHWA, NRMRL/NERL
Identify metrics used to relate traffic emission impacts on air quality and adverse health effects for inclusion in risk and health assessments FHWA, OTAQ, OAQPS, NHEERL, HEI, states
Provide improved air quality dispersion algorithms for near-road assessments and upgrade EPA's regulatory dispersion model AERMOD OTAQ, OAQPS, NOAA, FHWA, DOE, states

Site Selection Criteria

Selection Considerations Monitoring Protocol Criteria
AADT (> 150,000) Only sites with more than 150,000 annual average daily traffic (AADT) are considered as candidates.
Geometric Design The geometric design of the facility, including the layout of ramps, interchanges and similar facilities, will be taken into account. Where geometric design impedes effective data collection on MSATs and PM2.5, those sites will be excluded from further co
Topology (i.e., Sound Barriers, Road Elevation) Sites located in terrain making measurement of MSAT concentrations difficult or that raise questions of interpretation of any results will not be considered. For example, sharply sloping terrain away from a roadway could result in under representation of
Geographic Location Criteria applicable to representing geographic diversity within the U.S. as opposed to within any given city.
Availability of Data (Traffic Volume Data) Any location where data, including automated traffic monitoring data, meteorological or MSAT concentration data, is not readily available or instrumentation cannot be brought in to collect such data will not be considered for inclusion in the study.
Meteorology Sites will be selected based on their local climates to assess the impact of climate on dispersion of emissions and atmospheric processes that affect chemical reactions and phase changes in the ambient air.
While not explicitly included in the Monitoring Protocol, the following selection criteria were deemed important to the selection process and were included.
Downwind Sampling Any location where proper siting of downwind sampling sites is restricted due to topology, existing structures, meteorology, etc., may exclude otherwise suitable sites for consideration and inclusion in this study.
Potentially confounding air pollutant sources The presence of confounding emission sources may exclude otherwise suitable sites for consideration and inclusion in this study.
Site Access (Admin/Physical) Any location where site access, is restricted or prohibited either due to administrative or physical issues, will not be considered for inclusion in the study.

Instrument Deployment - Overview

Core Instruments 10 Meters @ I-96 Roadside 100 Meter Downwind 300 Meter Downwind 100 Meter Upwind
TO-11A Cartridge sampling X X X X
TO-15 Canister sampling X X X X
Continuous GC X X X X
Continuous gas monitoring (CO, NOx ) X X X X
Continuous black carbon monitoring (Aethalometer) X X X X
Continuous fine particle (TEOM) X X X X
Integrated PM2.5 (FRM) X X X X
Wind speed/wind direction (sonic anemometer) X X X X
Meteorological monitoring (temp, RH, solar, etc.)   X    
Study Enhancements
Continuous Particle Counts (TSI, 6nm – 3mm) X   X  
Ultrafine Particles (20-100 nm) X   X  
Continuous gas monitoring (CO2) X X X X
Michigan DOT -- Traffic Data
Vehicle Count, Vehicle Speed, Vehicle Class        
A collage of men working and transportation instruments.

I-15 Monitoring Site:

Overview Map of Detroit

Overview map of Detroit highlighting Eliza Howell Park in the upper, left quadrant.

Where do we go from here?

Vulnerability/Risk Assessment Conceptual Model and Pilots

Becky Lupes

Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team

FHWA Office of Natural Environment

FHWA logo

Peer Exchanges and Survey

Vulnerability Assessment and Risk Management

Three circle flow chart. Assessment (exposure, vulnerability, resilience) > Response (protect, accommodate, retreat) > Greater Resilience.

Vulnerability/Risk Assessment Conceptual Model


The goal is to help transportation decision makers (particularly transportation planners, asset managers, and system operators) identify which assets (a) are most exposed to the threats from climate change and/or (b) could result in the most serious consequences as a result of those threats FHWA developed a conceptual model for conducting vulnerability assessments.

Vulnerability/Risk Assessment Conceptual Model

Conceptual model diagram. Click image for text description.


  1. Develop asset inventory and prioritize (importance)
  2. Gather climate data: including certainty, likelihood, and magnitude of projected changes
  3. Assess risk and vulnerability of the assets and the system as a whole to climate changes
  4. Identify, Analyze, and Prioritize Adaptation Options
  5. Monitor and Revisit

Pilots Selected

Metropolitan Transportation Commission

Virginia DOT

New Jersey DOT

Washington State DOT

Oahu MPO

Description:  Low lying coastal communities (Kaaawa, red<1m) and (below) Waikiki showing land within 30 cm of high tide (red). Elevation and inundation maps such as these can serve as decision support tools to assess sea level vulnerability in Hawaii.) Source:  Grant Proposal Assessing Vulnerability and Risk of Climate Change Effects on Transportation Infrastructure, 30 July 2010, Oahu Metropolitan Planning Organization.


$82,000 to Oahu MPO

Next Steps

Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2

Rob Kafalenos

Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team

FHWA Office of Natural Environment

FHWA logo

Gulf Coast Study: Goals

Gulf Coast Study, Phase 2: Overview


What are the key transportation assets in Mobile, AL?

How can we screen these assets to establish a list of "critical" transportation assets for further analysis?

What climate change effects are projected for Mobile?

Given projected changes in climate and observed impacts for similar weather-related events which assets are most vulnerable?

What are the costs of inaction?

What strategies exist to reduce vulnerability among the most vulnerable assets and how much will they cost?

Task 1: Identify Critical Transportation Systems

Determine Subset of Entire Transportation Network on Which to Perform Vulnerability Assessment and Identify Adaptive Measures

Need a process applicable to all modes in study area: Highways, Rail, Airports, Ports, Pipelines, and Transit


ICF and PB are developing a preliminary list of critical assets:

(Other measures of "criticality": importance to local economy, providing connectivity for community interactions)

Operational Considerations: functional class, activity, key freight route, hazardous materials Emergency Preparedness: Evacuation, disaster relief/recovery Socio-economic assessments: Redundancy, serves key regional centers, provides key connections

One of the first steps in doing adaptation planning is identifying those components of the transportation system are most critical, where critical could be defined in many different ways. Three characteristics of critical infrastructure have been identified:

Connections: Network connectivity is critical to Mobile's economy as well as to the national and state economic activities dependent on Mobile's transportation system. Links that provide this connectivity are considered "critical" infrastructure.

Purpose: Some components of a transportation system are considered themselves as serving important purposes, such as distribution centers or multimodal centers. Because of the important purpose they play in the transportation system itself, they are considered critical infrastructure.

Function: Many transportation system components are important not for themselves, but simply for the fact that they connect to important economic or community centers. For example, roads or rail lines leading to major distribution centers or chemical refineries would be considered critical because of the purpose they serve in the region.

Task 1: .Identify Critical Transportation Systems

Recent Activity:


some early lessons...

  1. Data collection for all modes is a serious challenge
  2. Proprietary data is often not willingly provided
  3. Many databases do not have common referencing systems
  4. The data that is available represents historical or today's conditions….not necessarily what will exist in some future year when adaptation issues might be of greater concern
  5. If you are not careful in how your criteria are applied, everything becomes "critiical."
  6. The community has a role to play in helping identify critical infrastructure

Task 2: Collect Climate Data and Assess Transportation Exposure & Sensitivity

Three main areas of work:

  1. Collect historical and projected weather and climate data
    • Assistance from USGS
      USGS logo. Science for a changing world.
  2. Conduct storm surge and wave modeling, SLR analysis, and estimate potential inundation of transportation assets (i.e., exposure
  3. Assess the extent to which particular transportation systems are affected by climate variations (i.e., sensitivity)

Approach will be different than Phase I, e.g.


Interagency agreement to get subsidence data, temp/precip projections.

  1. Observations and model projections
    temperature precipitation
    winds runoff
    waves sea level rise
    storm surge storm events
  2. Will examine changes in both means and extremes
  3. Assess the extent to which particular transportation systems are affected by today's climate variations (i.e., sensitivity)

Collecting data that illustrates damage associated with past weather events by transportation mode

Using information obtained from:

Results will be used to screen out relatively insensitive transportation components, and to inform the subsequent risk analyses in Task 3.

Need say something about the purpose of this, like developing impact relationships—we're doing this to understand how the relationship between past weather events and resulting damage.  These relationships—impact relationships—can then be applied to estimate the impacts of future changes in climate.  [Ties in to "Conduct engineering analysis and assessment" under task 3, next slide]

Results of the sensitivity analysis being presented in a large matrix with climate variables (columns) and transportation modes (rows)

Tasks 3 & 4: Vulnerability & Risk Management

Task 5: Working with Mobile

Upcoming Air Quality, Climate Change & Sustainability Activities

Diane Turchetta

Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team

FHWA Office of Natural Environment

FHWA logo

Air Quality Research Activities

Climate Change: Mitigation Activities

Climate Change: Adaptation Activities

Sustainability: Activities

Air Quality and Climate Change Resources

Questions and Answer Session

For Additional Information

If you have general questions about STEP or this webinar, contact

Air Quality and Climate Change Information

Updated: 9/30/2012
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