This two-stage project (undertaken in 2008/2009) aims to identify and assess the impacts climate change may have on New Zealand’s land transport networks (road, rail, ports and coastal shipping), and provides recommendations, including adaptation options, to address identified information gaps and risks.
Stage one includes a review of research in New Zealand and overseas on climate change risks and adaptation responses for land transport. A stakeholder survey was used to determine work being carried out by local, regional and central government agencies, crown research institutes and universities. Key climate change risks and knowledge gaps for each mode, and prioritised aspects requiring further research, were identified by climate science, planning and transport engineering experts in a risk assessment workshop. The report summarises findings from the literature review and gap analysis in the context of potential trends in climate change in New Zealand over the next 50 and 100 years. Gaps in climate research, policy and legislation, and individual transport modes are described alongside recommendations for areas needing further research. These include three national transport profiling studies (inland flooding, coastal inundation and rail heat stress) that were taken forward in the second stage of the project.
Stage two deals with regional effects of climate extremes on the networks, and considers how these vary by region, when and where these risks emerge and which parts of the land transport networks are most at risk. The study describes three national climate change profiles covering rail heat buckle from extreme temperature, flood risk from extreme rainfall and coastal inundation risk from low-lying areas sections of the networks. Data from the NZ Transport Agency, ONTRACK and port authorities were used to assess the current vulnerability of networks to extreme weather. Extrapolation was used to predict future effects based on modelling of climate extremes for 10-, 50- and 100-year projections using a mid-range (A1B) scenario. Regional impacts were determined from GIS maps by overlaying climate change predictions with transport infrastructure. Priority adaptation responses are discussed for each national profile in the context of design, operation, research and policy issues, and related emerging climate change research.