Caltrans releases climate change assessments | TheUnion.com

Caltrans releases climate change assessments

Submitted to The Union

SACRAMENTO — Caltrans has released two Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments as part of an effort to understand how and where climate change may impact the State Highway System, a news release states.

The assessments evaluate risks, including extreme temperatures, increased precipitation, storm surge, wildfire risk and sea level rise.

These Climate Change Vulnerability Assessments identify specific locations along the State Highway System heavily impacted by frequent wildfires in recent years. In the northeast corner of the state, assessments were conducted within the counties of Shasta, Tehama, Plumas, Lassen, Modoc, Trinity and Siskiyou, and within California's Central Valley and Sierra Nevada counties assessments were conducted in Madera, Fresno, Tulare, Kings and Kern counties.

By identifying the possible risks and implications of climate change, the reports seek to guide future planning processes and investments to ensure the long-term future of California's transportation system.

"Climate change is an immediate and escalating threat to California and its transportation system, and Caltrans is being proactive," said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. "We are looking at where the state highway system is vulnerable, so we can address issues moving forward."

Extreme weather and its associated costs are expected to become more pronounced and more frequent in the future as a result of climate change. Events are tied together, as a wildfire can scorch crucial vegetation on hillsides that would otherwise help soak-up storm runoff in the winter. This can lead to flooding and severe erosion of state roadways.

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The Summary Reports for the two new assessments provide an overview of the extent and locations of possible climate impacts. The more in-depth Technical Reports provide technical information and the methods of analysis used to determine the potential exposure of these State Highway Systems. These assessments will be followed with a study of the appropriate responses.

The reports are supported by an extensive GIS database and Caltrans has developed an interactive mapping application for public use, which shows impacted locations and the climate model results.

The reports and the interactive mapping application can be accessed at: http://www.dot.ca.gov/transplanning/ocp/vulnerability-assessment.html.

Source: California Department of Transportation.

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