The U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DoT) on Wednesday released a study of the potential impacts climate change and land subsidence could have on the Gulf Coast region’s transportation infrastructure.
Examining an area that includes 48 contiguous counties in four states – from Galveston, Texas to Mobile, Alabama – the DoT has undertaken the study to provide valuable information to regional transportation planners and government. The report is the first of a three-phase study on a region of particular concern given its geography, ecology and vulnerability, as well as the central role it plays in the nation’s oil and gas infrastructure.
“The Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, Phase I,” assesses regional transportation systems’ vulnerabilities to potential changes in weather patterns and related impacts, as well as the effect of natural land subsidence and other environmental factors, according to a DoT media release.
Potential climate changes in the next 50 to 100 years could disrupt transportation services across the region, according to the study, which made use of 21 simulation models and a range of emissions scenarios. “Twenty-seven percent of major roads, 9 percent of rail lines, and 72 percent of area ports are at or below 4 feet in elevation, and could be vulnerable to flooding due to future sea level rise and natural sinking of the area’s land mass,” according to the media release.
The study is being carried out by the DoT in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey and state and local researchers as one of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s 21 “synthesis and assessment” reports. Subsequent phases of the study are meant to develop risks and adaptation strategies that can be used for planning, investment, design and operational decision making related to infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region and nationwide.