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Literature Review: Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment, Risk Assessment, and Adaptation Approaches

Incorporation of climate change impacts into transportation decisions is still a relatively new concept. As decision makers in various sectors grapple with information on climate change effects and how they may or may not impact their core mission(s), they are turning to existing tools and approaches for guidance. To date, three closely-related approaches are being used to help transportation decision makers consider and prepare for future climate impacts: vulnerability assessment, risk assessment, and adaptation assessment.

Climate Change, Water Scarcity, and Adaptation in the U.S. Fieldcrop Sector

U.S. agriculture faces significant changes in local patterns of precipitation and temperature over the next century, with implications for regional water cycling and water availability. The effects of climate change on food production, farmer livelihoods, and consumer welfare will depend on the direction, magnitude, and rate of change in local weather conditions, as well as on the ability of the agricultural sector to adapt to changing yield and productivity patterns, production costs, and resource availability.

Climate Change, Heat Stress, and U.S. Dairy Production

In the United States, climate change is likely to increase average daily temperatures and the frequency of heat waves, which can reduce meat and milk production in animals. Methods that livestock producers use to mitigate thermal stress—including modifications to animal management or housing—tend to increase production costs and capital expenditures. Dairy cows are particularly sensitive to heat stress, and the dairy sector has been estimated to bear over half of the costs of current heat stress to the livestock industry.

Resilience Strategies for Power Outages

A warming atmosphere is giving extra energy to storms, making the hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms of today more intense than those of the past. This trend is projected to accelerate in the years to come. These stronger storms are more likely to cause power outages, and the loss of power can be costly in terms of lives lost, economic impact, and public health. This fact sheet outlines strategies that local governments could implement to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages and help communities better withstand them when they do occur.

Climate Change and Federal Environmental Law

Human activities, particularly the combustion of fossil fuels and the large-scale transformation of land cover, affect ecosystems around the world. Changes in temperature, precipitation, and water chemistry are altering our environment. These changes will also affect environmental regulatory frameworks, either rendering them ineffective or forcing them to adapt to achieve their goals under changing conditions.

Brief: Resilience Strategies for Power Outages

A warming atmosphere is giving extra energy to storms, making the hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms of today more intense than those of the past. This trend is projected to accelerate in the years to come. These stronger storms are more likely to cause power outages, and the loss of power can be costly in terms of lives lost, economic impact, and public health. This fact sheet outlines strategies that local governments could implement to reduce the frequency and duration of power outages and help communities better withstand them when they do occur.

Brief: Resilience Strategies for Drought

Across the United States, the risk of drought is expected to grow due to reduced precipitation and higher temperatures caused by climate change. Drought’s far-reaching impacts can ripple through communities, regions, watersheds, economies and ecosystems. This fact sheet overviews strategies for areas with a projected increase in drought conditions to become more resilient. It concludes with a community case study that has used a number of these strategies, and a list of tools to help communities evaluate the costs and benefits of resilience strategies.

Brief: Resilience Strategies for Flash Flooding

The United States is facing increasingly frequent and intense precipitation events and ever higher damages from flooding each year due to climate change and urbanization. Communities, counties, and states are responding by upgrading stormwater and sewage systems with a growing emphasis on strategies to become more resilient to flooding. This paper outlines resilience strategies for flash flooding, with an emphasis on riverine and precipitation-caused flooding. For each strategy, the paper will discuss primary and co-benefits, and associated costs.

Brief: Resilience Strategies for Wildfire

The risk of wildfire is expected to grow across the United States due to reduced precipitation in some regions, and higher temperatures caused by climate change. Wildfire has far-reaching impacts that can ripple through communities, regions, watersheds, and ecosystems. This paper overviews a number of adaptation strategies for areas with a projected increase in wildfire conditions. For each strategy, it will discuss design and operation costs, and primary and co-benefits.