Cluster Transport, transport infrastructure

The picture shows an empty road. In the foreground it is closed off with a roadblock and a barrier sign with the inscription flood.Click to enlarge
Transport,transport infrastructure
Source: Photograph: © phogura / stock.adobe.com

2019 Monitoring Report on the German Strategy for Adaptation to Climate Change

Transport, transport infrastructure

In recent years, extreme weather events and weather patterns have repeatedly caused major traffic disruptions. These events are increasingly associated with changing climatic conditions thus indicating that potential impacts from climate change will affect transport carriers such as road and rail as well as inland and marine shipping in equal measure.

Whenever rail services and municipal transport organisations have to suspend operations in respect of local and long-distance traffic, the consequences often affect large contiguous areas. In autumn 2017, for example, triggered by the low-pressure system Xavier, this affected the short-distance traffic from Berlin and Hamburg as well as all rail routes in the areas of Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony, Bremen, parts of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the important long-distance routes between Berlin and Hamburg as well as between Berlin and Hanover. Again and again, it is necessary to close route sections damaged by heat resulting in so-called blow-ups. This occurs in older motorways of concrete construction where concrete slabs expand and due to the resulting tension jerk up suddenly. Flooding events are another cause of road closures, as for instance in connection with the floodwater from Danube and Elbe in 2013 where long sections of motorways A3 and A8 in Bavaria had to be closed owing to flooding. In late summer 2018, inland shipping on the Rhine was subjected to severe restrictions owing to low water levels.

So far there are still major uncertainties whether the nature of impacts from climate change will be of particular relevance to transport. This is why various federal authorities use specific research programmes to address potential climate change impacts on the transport industry in order to examine potential options for action. One objective of this research is to clarify which measures should be given top priority to ensure that the transport system will continue to cope with the demands of a mobile society.

Effects of climate change

High and low water levels – problems for shipping on the Rhine (VE-I-1, VE-I-2)

Heavy rain – brief but violent (VE-I-3)

Travelling safely, come snow or ice, rain or heat (VE-I-4)

Storms and heavy rain – busy times for highway maintenance (VE-I-5)