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Adapting Transport to Climate Change and Extreme Weather

Implications for Infrastructure Owners and Network Managers

image of Adapting Transport to Climate Change and Extreme Weather

This report addresses the fundamental challenges that climate change poses to infrastructure owners, who face two major challenges. First, they must ensure continued asset performance under sometimes significantly modified climate conditions that may decrease the present value of their networks or increase maintenance and refurbishment costs. Second, they must build new assets in the context of changing and uncertain climate variables. This creates a risk of over- or under-specification of infrastructure design standards, potentially resulting in non-productive investments or network service degradation. This report investigates strategies that can help transport authorities contain network performance risks inherent in changing patterns of extreme weather.

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Executive summary

International Transport Forum

Broad evidence indicates that man-made emissions of greenhouse gases are changing the climate, and many of the potential impacts of climate change on meteorological conditions can affect the performance of transport systems and the viability of transport infrastructure. Summer temperatures will increase and heat extremes will become more frequent and last longer. Winter temperatures will become milder but temperature amplitudes may increase and swings between sub-zero and above freezing point temperatures will occur more often. Warming of the Arctic regions will lead to deeper permafrost melting (and soil heaving) with loss of summer sea and land ice. Winters will see more precipitation in the Northern Hemisphere, and more of it will be rain.

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