How Climate Change Will Impact Global Transport Sector in 2021

Transport systems in the U.S. and around the world are made to withstand local weather and climate. Engineers consider past weather records when building transportation systems.

However, due to climate change, relying on historical climate to make future business decisions is not the best option.

Climate change is a reality and is bound to increase in the coming years. From more severe heat waves to increased water levels, the transportation sector will be affected in many different ways.

In turn, these changes will lead to disruptions, damages, and delays in air, land, and marine transportation systems.

Luckily, many weather apps can help businesses look into daily weather forecasts and set custom alerts based on hyper-local weather data. Here’s a list of best weather apps for 2021 by Climacell along with their individual ratings and features explained. It serves as a good starting point if you are looking for a weather app that works for your business.

How Climate Change Affects Sea Levels

The transport sector is prone to extreme weather conditions. As stated before, climate change leads to extreme precipitation, sea-level rise, landslides, temperature rise, and coastal storms.

Since 1880, sea levels have swelled over 50 cm – seven out of these centimeters have surged over the twenty five years, with studies showing that the sea rises by .33 centimeters each year.

Many coastal cities, including Charleston, Virginia Beach, Miami, New York, Boston, and Atlantic City, are susceptible to sea-level rise. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Georgia, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, and Pennsylvania are at risk of sea-level rise in the coming years.

Climate Change Impacts on Roadways

Higher temperatures are known to soften and expand the pavement, creating potholes and rutting. Higher temperatures will derail construction activities, especially in high humidity areas.

More than 7,000Km of roads in the Caribbean Islands and South America will be damaged if water levels rise by 50cm, according to CEPAL.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Caribbean would lose about 600km of roads if the water levels rose by 50cm.

Climate change could make it costlier to build and maintain roads. On the other hand, areas that experience less frequent winter and reduced snowfall would experience improved mobility and reduced costs.

Areas that will receive heavy rainfall would have disrupted traffic, delays in construction activities, and damage to bridges, tunnels, and culverts. As expected, exposure to flooding will reduce the roads’ life expectancy.

More than 60,000 roads in the U.S. are already exposed to flooding. Since major highways in coastal areas are used as evacuation routes, they need to be protected from flooding.

Climate Impacts on Railways

Higher temperatures will cause rails to expand. In fact, severe and more frequent heat will lead to derailments, which will require speed restrictions and repair. Delays and disruptions are likely to occur due to heavy precipitation.

Increasingly severe hurricanes and tropical storms may flood railways and hence disrupt rail travel and freight transport.

The Midwest floods in June 2008 closed east-west rail for many days. As with roadways, railways are susceptible to induction from storms and sea-level rise. Since underground pathways and tunnels are below sea level, there is a risk of flooding from storms.

In 2012, Hurricane Sandy affected New York City and New Jersey, leaving millions of people without a subway service.

Impacts on Air Travel

Climate change affects airports, airplanes, airstrips, and ultimately affects air travel and infrastructure.

Frequent heat can impact aircraft performance, leading to cargo restrictions, flight cancellations, and delays. On the brighter side, warmer weather will reduce the need for de-icing.

Heavy rains and flooding can disrupt air travel in the spring and winter. For instance, Hurricane Sandy forced airports to close in Hurricane Katrina. Climate is likely to increase these events, affecting many airports.

Impacts on Marine Transportation

The depth of the channel and sea ice impacts the mobility and performance of ships. Warmer temperatures will reduce sea ice, leading to the extension of the shipping season.

Extreme precipitation could, however, can cause debris and silt build-up, making channels less accessible. If channels are not well-maintained, they are likely to cause travel disruptions in shipping and marine travel.

Docks and bridges will need to be raised to reduce damages due to storm surges and higher tides.

As you can see, climate and weather changes will have a significant impact on the transport sector. Governments and private investors need to pay much attention to climate change when making short-term and long-term decisions regarding transport infrastructure. This needs to be achieved in tandem with the efforts to slow down the severity of climate change.

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