Research Projects

Guidance for the Design and Justification of Resilient Airport Infrastructure Focusing on the Effects of Increased Precipitation

Further guidance on how to approach the design of airport infrastructure that is more resilient to climatic change is required. Efforts are underway both nationally and internationally to address identification of vulnerabilities and incorporating into planning documents; but there remains a gap in procedures to evaluate and determine design criteria for engineers and architects that may be more readily endorsed by funding agencies. Further, as communities implement new criteria (e.g., 500-year flood), the ability of the airport to incorporate the local criteria into designs will need to be accepted by these same funding agencies.

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

The increase in severity and occurrences of extreme weather events (e.g., heat waves and flash floods) as well as the effects of rising sea levels and changing weather patterns (e.g., periods of extended drought) have caused significant flooding and widespread damage to regions across North America. Airports and communities will increasingly face extreme weather events for which existing infrastructure was not built or designed to withstand.
Airports have begun to examine what can be accomplished to make airport infrastructure more resilient to the effects of such weather events. However, further research is needed to better help airports identify how changing precipitation, higher temperatures and weather patterns could affect their facilities and operation. This guidance would help airports update design guidelines that consider threats associated with the changing climate. The research would include guidance on how airports can justify the higher capital costs of resilient infrastructure given existing AIP grant policies and that historic climate data may be an ineffective indicator of future climate trends.
Other modes of transportation, utility providers, and other service providers are already conducting their own resiliency planning in many communities. A comprehensive and integrated region-wide examination is needed to achieve effective regional resilience since the airport relies on its neighbors in the region and vice versa. Enhancing airport resilience without the coordination and collaboration of other critical regional entities (e.g., fuel delivery, roadway connectivity, water/sewer) can result in a poor resilience system. Therefore, the research would also identify realistic solutions for airports to integrate their efforts into a comprehensive and implementable region-wide plan for effective resilience.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The objective is to provide a guidebook with a suitable framework for designing resilient airport infrastructure considering changing climate patterns leading to dramatic changes in precipitation and temperature. Additional goals of this research are to identify strategies for airports to justify higher capital costs related to resilient infrastructure design and describe collaboration techniques for how airports can engage their local communities to implement a comprehensive and integrated resiliency planning approach.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

Proposed Tasks:
• Take inventory of guidance and current practices:
Identify current practices and guidance used in planning and design of airport infrastructure resilient to climate change. Through consultation with industry leaders' that represent a broad cross-section of airports and geographic regions.
• Literature review:
Complete a literature review and identify commonalities as differences between regions in the approach to planning and justification of costs associated with infrastructure resilient to climate change beyond the typical planning horizons of 20, 50 and 100 years.
• Identify gaps:
Complete a gap analysis to identify where guidance being used by airports and regulatory authorities may not be sufficiently considering all of the information appropriate to inform decisions related to infrastructure resiliency planning and spending. Similarly, identify where gaps may exist to ensure a harmonized approach for resilient regional infrastructure is implemented.
• Identify best practices:
From research conducted, identify where best practices may be found applicable to the approach to planning, designing, and financing airport infrastructure resilient to climate change.
Propose a framework to help airports and communities better evaluate infrastructure resiliency needs and prepare suitable justification for funding.
• Prepare the Guidebook:
Document best practices, propose a common framework, and examine how it could be used to address common problems and questions. The guidebook should identify the resources available or required to make informed decisions regarding resilient infrastructure plans.
• Deliverables:
Prepare a guidebook that includes an adaptable framework that can be applied to identify the appropriate level of designed infrastructure resilience for an airport. The framework will need to be adaptable to local and regional decision making and be used to justify the increased costs associated with building additional resiliency into infrastructure and systems.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)

Estimated Cost: $400,000 USD
Estimated Duration: 18 months

Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

• Building and Measuring Community Resilience: Actions for Communities and the Gulf Research Program, National Academy of Sciences
https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25383/building-and-measuring-community-resilience-actions-for-communities-and-the
• Resilience in Transportation Planning, Engineering, Management, Policy and Administration (2018). National Academy of Sciences, National Cooperative Highway Research Program
https://www.nap.edu/download/25166
• Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, National Academies Press
https://www.nap.edu/catalog/13457/disaster-resilience-a-national-imperative
• Protecting Airports from Flood Risk
http://insurancethoughtleadership.com/protecting-infrastructure-from-flood-risk/
• ARCP Report 49 Collaborative Airport Capital Planning Handbook
http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/165584.aspx
• ACRP Report 147: Climate Change Adaptation Planning: Risk Assessment for Airports
http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/173554.aspx
• ACRP Report 188: Using Existing Airport Management Systems to Manage Climate Risk
http://www.trb.org/Publications/Blurbs/178312.aspx
• ARCP Report 199 Climate Resilience and Benefit–Cost Analysis: A Handbook for Airports
http://www.trb.org/main/blurbs/179275.aspx

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Idea No. 275