With the gradual passage of time, climate change has undoubtedly increased the intensity and frequency of the extreme weather events. Specifically, the rise in sea levels are going to intensify the storm surges in coastal regions, the heat waves are going to be more severe and the precipitation levels are also going to become more intense. These significant changes will possibly increase the risk of damage, delays, disruptions all across the varied types of transportation systems.
The transportation infrastructure is developed to last for a minimum span of 50 years or more. Thus, it has become extremely important to comprehend how the effects of global warming and climate change might affect the investments in transportation in the near future.
Impact on Land-based Transportation
. Roadways: Higher temperatures might cause the pavements to expand and soften which, will further lead to the rutting and potholes, especially in the high-traffic regions and even cause stress on the bridge joints. The heat waves will also restrict the construction activities, especially in the areas of high humidity, thereby making it difficult and costly to maintain and build the highways and roads.
. Railways: The high temperature leads the rail tracks to buckle and expand. More amount of extremely severe and recurrent heat waves might require some kind of speed restrictions or track repairs for avoiding the derailment. Furthermore, heavy precipitation might also lead to major disruption and delays whereas, the tropical hurricanes and storms will lead to floods, thereby, disrupting the rail and freight transport and leaving debris on the railways.
Impact on Air Transportation
During the summers, extreme heat will certainly lead to affect the aircraft performance, thereby causing the airplanes to deal with vulnerabilities such as flight delays, cargo restrictions and cancellations. In case of the spring and winters, the increased rains and floods might also cause major disruptions to air travelling. The severe stores can compel the authority to close the airports, which, occurred along during the time of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy.
Impact on Marine Transportation
The ships are reactive to a number of factors, including the extent of sea ice and depth of the channel. The increasing temperature will decrease the level of sea ice in many of the major shipping lanes, thereby stretching the shipping season. The warmer winters will cause less ice and snow accumulation on the decks, vessels and rigging in water transport. Furthermore, in the Arctic region, the rising temperatures might also lead to the chances of a Northwest Passage creation, during certain time periods of the year. This, in turn, will lead to reduced shipping distances and time. On the contrary, these passages might also create a pathway for transport and survival of the invasive species.
Considering the scenario, many prolific researchers and environmentalists have advised both the federal as well as state governments and private realtors consider the effects of global warming while making long-term improvement plans, operations and maintenance activities. They should also evaluate the promising benefits of utilizing ‘smarter’ technologies for reevaluating the design standards, monitoring the infrastructure, integrating climate change for land use planning and transportation and even updating the maps being used for flood insurance programs as well.