The impact of climate change on urban transport resilience in a changing world.

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Abstract

The assessment of the potential impact of climate change on transport is an area of research very much in its infancy, and one that requires input from a multitude of disciplines including geography, engineering and technology, meteorology, climatology and futures studies. This paper investigates the current state of the art for assessments on urban surface transport, where rising populations and increasing dependence on efficient and reliable mobility have increased the importance placed on resilience to weather. The standard structure
of climate change impact assessment (CIA) requires understanding in three important areas: how weather currently affects infrastructure and operations; how climate change may alter the frequency and magnitude of these impacts; and how concurrent technological and socio-economic development may shape the transport network of the future, either ameliorating or exacerbating the effects of climate change. The extent to which the requisite knowledge exists for a successful CIA is observed to decrease from the former to the latter. This paper traces a number of developments in the extrapolation of physical and behavioural relationships on to future climates, including a broad move away from previous deterministic methods and towards probabilistic projections which make use of a much broader range of climate change model output, giving a better representation of the uncertainty involved. Studies increasingly demand spatially and temporally downscaled climate projections that can represent realistic sub-daily fluctuations in weather that transport systems are
sensitive to. It is recommended that future climate change impact assessments should focus on several key areas, including better representation of sub-daily extremes in climate tools, and recreation of realistic spatially coherent weather. Greater use of the increasing amounts of data created and captured by ‘intelligent infrastructure’ and ‘smart cities’ is also needed to develop behavioural and physical models of the response of transport to weather and to develop a better understanding of how stakeholders respond to probabilistic
climate change impact projections.

Details

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)448-463
JournalProgress in Physical Geography
Volume38
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2014