E U-U S Cooperation in R&I on Transport Adaptation to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events

E U-U S Cooperation in R&I on Transport Adaptation to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events


Maria Cristina Marolda, European Commission


A EU-US symposium "Transportation Resilience: Adaptation to Climate Change and Extreme Events" will take place in Brussels on 16-17 June 2016. The paper will resume the main outcome following the topics identified in the preparation of the event.


The European Commission (DG RTD and DG MOVE) and the U.S. DOT/Office of the Secretary, in collaboration with the TRB/Transportation Research Board of the US National Academies have organised a series of annual bilateral Transport research symposia.
The fourth upcoming one, "Transportation Resilience: Adaptation to Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events", will take place in Brussels on 16-17 June 2016.
Along the same lines of the previous symposia, this symposium identifies the way forward to enable systemic long-term collaboration to address common research needs, share information on on-going and completed research, and develop opportunities for joint research projects.
This symposium is expected to lead to a better sharing of knowledge on the state of the art of research in transportation resilience and to pave the way for better coordinated research and innovation activities on both sides.
The paper, to be completed after the symposium will take place, will resume the main outcomes, along the lines of the topics identified at the early preparation stage of the event.
These are:
Determining what is the acceptable level of transportation resilience
Finding the right balance between a resilience level to withstand projected impacts of climate change and extreme events and profitable investment of scarce resources is a critical issue to be considered before every intervention. The knowledge needed to be able to make sound decisions is not yet fully known and agreed among major actors in the field. Open dialogue between meteorologists and engineers/planners/operators needs to be strengthen to identify which climate projections are to be used to model transport asset attributes.
Goals for transportation resilience
Our existing transportation infrastructure and the overall performance and dynamics of the system of transportation need to have goals for resilience in order to identify pathways for achieving desired outcomes. In this process, the highly interconnected nature of the transportation system needs to be taken into account, whereby disturbances in one part of the network can generate disruptions in other parts.
Risk-Based Transportation Asset Management
Broader in scope than traditional transportation asset management (TAM) and performance management systems (PMS), RBTAM is the application of risk management to TAM and PMS. Climate impacts are risks that can constrain, or in some cases enhance, a transportation organization’s ability to meet its objectives. Risk management is the effective organizational response to those climate risks resulting in resilience. Transportation organizations that implement RBTAMs will be able to better communicate climate risks to their stakeholders and provide a clear understanding of the suite of responses needed to ensure resilience against those risks.
Ensuring existing Infrastructure Resilience
Existing transportation infrastructure is owned and operated by various public agencies and private firms, and covers an enormous range of ages, service life and levels of sophistication. Existing infrastructure has been built according to many different design standards, and its current and future environmental risk is similarly varied. The probability of unexpected failures due to changing climatic conditions may increase. As existing infrastructure approaches the end of its service life, decisions about replacement or abandonment should take into account changing future risks. Research is needed to better understand how disparate levels of resilience in existing transportation assets can be managed to adapt as best as possible the changes foreseen in the decades to come.
Ensuring new Infrastructure Resilience
Future planned infrastructure should be designed and built in recognition of the best understanding of future environmental risks. Understanding of projected climate changes need to be incorporated into infrastructure planning and design processes, across the many public and private builders and operators of transportation infrastructure. Additionally, the confluence of new technologies taking place in the sector brings new considerations of how climate change may negatively affect or be mitigated by vehicle connectivity, electrification, advanced materials, and renewable energy deployment in support of transportation assets. Consideration should also be given to the effects that extreme weather conditions can have on functionalities and reliability of these new technologies.
Ensuring System Resilience
Transportation systems are more than just the sum of their individual parts. Transportation systems are potentially vulnerable to the loss of key elements. Therefore, selectively adding redundant infrastructure may be a more efficient strategy than hardening many individual facilities on the existing system. Cooperation among stakeholders is indispensable to allow integrated, complementary and mutually supportive actions in the sector and outside. Research is needed to better understand the ripple effects that may be induced by climate change impacts on system dynamics within the transportation sector.


Association for European Transport