In transportation terms, adaptation refers to changes in the way surface
transportation infrastructure is planned, designed, constructed, operated,
and maintained. Adaptation to global climate change (GCC) is critical to
protecting the nation’s transportation system. Current efforts to reduce
greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the atmosphere, while important for
reducing the long-term effects of global climate change, will likely have
little effect on expected GCC impacts over the next twenty or thirty years.
Policymakers, transportation planners, and system managers, therefore,
must proactively and cooperatively adapt to GCC in order to continue to
deliver the public a safe, reliable, effective, and sustainable transportation
"Adaptation" is not a new term for transportation decision makers. Legislation
encouraging action agencies to develop and apply a portfolio of adaptation
and mitigation responses to reduce the loss of life and property to
weather-related natural hazards have existed since flood management
laws were enacted in the late 1930s. The fact that the rate of climate
change is now accelerating necessitates a new strategy for action.