Climate Change Risk Assessment and Adaptation Planning at Airports

The effects from climate change vary and their risks pose a diverse set of issues for airports. In some places, increases in precipitation will not only flood runways but overwhelm storm water systems, potentially impacting water quality compliance. Elsewhere, hotter days can impact engine performance, and damage aircraft tires and pavements. The projected increases in severe winter storms may create a "new normal" for airports unaccustomed to the increased snow removal requirements. As a result, climate change is likely to have subtle and dramatic effects on airports, introducing another adaptation challenge to airport operators. Airports occupy large acreage, often encompass multiple watersheds, and are sited in many diverse environments. The potential climate change impacts and adaptation actions will vary widely. Department of transportation agencies and a number of states and their subdivisions are undertaking planning efforts to address adaptation to climate impacts. Recent guidance from the Council on Environmental Quality will require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other federal agencies to consider the effects of climate on proposed projects during National Environmental Policy Act review. Research on the transportation sector's resilience and adaptation to climate change has been growing for over a decade, yet there is very little on airports specifically. Research is needed to help airports assimilate the growing body of knowledge from other transportation sectors and to adapt practices for the airport environment. The objective of this research is to develop a climate change adaptation guidebook for airports that identifies potential impacts from climate change; assesses related airport risks; and provides guidance for managing related uncertainty, developing a prioritized actions plan, and implementing the actions plan as an adaptive management process. In addition to a step-by-step, how-to manual, the guidebook should include at a minimum the following: (1) Background information and justification for all size airports to understand the need for airports to conduct climate change risk assessments. (2) A comprehensive list of potential impacts (direct and indirect) to airports and their regional environs from climate change. Potential impacts may include physical, operational, and business impacts such as planning, design, construction, operations, maintenance, redevelopment, financial, security, human resources, air service, and tenant relations. Also briefly describe the potential secondary effects that may develop as a result of implementing certain adaptation actions. (3) A screening tool to determine the magnitude of impacts and risks from climate change as a preliminary evaluation. (4) An inventory of important elements and outputs of the assessment, including a template for developing and implementing the action plans. (5) A description, comparison, and evaluation of existing adaptation planning frameworks (e.g., tools, models) that are currently available to airports for climate change assessment. The research plan should build in appropriate interim deliverables that include at minimum the following: (1) a draft outline of the guidebook that will require Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) approval prior to being implemented and (2) an interim report that describes work done in early tasks with an updated work plan for remaining tasks, and provides an initial draft of the guidebook and screening tool. After incorporating panel comments from the interim meeting, solicit participation and feedback from up to 10 airports to evaluate the completeness, clarity, value, and usability of the guidebook and screening tool. The selection of airports will be a representation of small, medium, and large airports with geographic and operational diversity, and range of potential climatic impacts. The research plan should build in other appropriate research phase checkpoints with the ACRP panel, including at a minimum: (1) a kick-off teleconference meeting to be held within 1 month of the Notice to Proceed and (2) one face-to-face interim deliverable review meeting. Spontaneous ad hoc web-enabled teleconferences, tied to the panel review and ACRP approval of other interim deliverables, may also be included if deemed appropriate. The final deliverables will include the following: (1) the guidebook and screening tool; (2) a report documenting the results of the airport evaluation and any modifications incorporated into the guidebook and screening tool; and (3) a final report that documents the entire research effort, incorporating all other specified deliverable products of the research; and (4) the research team's recommendation of future research needs and priorities, which build upon this or other related research.


  • English


  • Status: Active
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 02-40

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Aviation Administration

    800 Independence Avenue, SW
    Washington, DC  United States  20591

    Airport Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Salamone, Michael

  • Performing Organizations:


  • Principal Investigators:

    Mampara, Mathew

  • Start Date: 20140101
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20140630
  • Source Data: RiP Project 38386

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01547689
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transportation Research Board
  • Contract Numbers: Project 02-40
  • Files: TRB, RiP
  • Created Date: Dec 13 2014 1:01AM