The National Academies

ACRP 02-74 [Final]

Using Existing Airport Management Systems to Manage Climate Risk

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Research Agency: ICF Incorporated, LLC.
Principal Investigator: Beth Rodehorst
Effective Date: 9/28/2016
Completion Date: 3/22/2018

ACRP Research Report 188: is a handbook to help airport planners, management, airport operations staff, and others who need to integrate current and projected climate change-related risks into airport management systems and planning. The goal is to enable airports of all sizes, types, and geographic locations to reduce their vulnerability to current and projected impacts of climate change, including extreme weather events, and to minimize long-term costs to their facilities and operations. This handbook provides a detailed guide for integration, as well as a self-assessment tool for determining the applicable systems for climate-related decision-making within the airport. The accompanying quick-start guide helps airports get started on the most critical portions of the handbook.
Airports manage risk—including risks related to climate and weather—under various programs and decision-making processes, such as enterprise risk management, safety management, and emergency management. Additional processes like asset management, capital planning, and others also manage risk by making sure resources are allocated, and assets designed and maintained, to reduce an airport’s vulnerability to certain stressors. 
Assumptions about climate and weather are built into most airport management systems. Budget planning, for example, involves assumptions about how much infrastructure maintenance or replacement is needed to counteract effects of climate and weather. Emergency management and irregular operations planning involves assumptions about events that might disrupt operations. 
Expectations for future climate and weather conditions are usually based on historical records. However, climate change means that past events are not indicative of future events. If climate change is not taken into account, expensive infrastructure could be inadequately designed for future needs, the airport could be under-prepared for extreme weather events and associated service disruptions, and other financial and operational planning efforts might not be optimized.
Rather than considering climate change as a completely new and separate risk to address, airports can integrate the concept of climate change into their existing decision-making processes to ensure that climate risks are adequately managed.  Approaching climate change in this way allows airports to make more informed decisions about appropriate investments to mitigate risks over time. However, there are no universal best practices or existing guidelines on how to do so. Without an integrative resource for airports, climate risks can be viewed as an abstract and unquantifiable, resulting in missed opportunities. Airports also may not be aware of the full range of climate risk factors warranting inclusion in airports’ multi-hazard risk management processes.
To help overcome this barrier, ACRP is releasing ACRP Report 188: Using Existing Airport Management Systems to Manage Climate Risk, which includes a handbook that helps airports understand the need to address climate change and demonstrates how climate change can be factored into their existing decision-making processes. The handbook includes a self-assessment tool for determining applicable management systems for climate-related decision-making within the airport, a detailed guide for integrating climate risks into seven key management systems, and strategies for building support across the airport. The seven management systems addressed are: strategic planning, master planning, enterprise risk management, safety management, capital planning, asset management, and emergency management.
Under ACRP Project 02-74, research was conducted by ICF (led by Principal Investigator Beth Rodehorst), Gresham Smith & Partners, and Faith Group, LLC. Initial insights into the state of practice and key management systems for climate risk management were obtained through a literature review and webinars with airport stakeholders. The handbook was based on this initial research and then tested and vetted through several airport focus groups and site visits. An accompanying quick start guide covers the most critical portions of the handbook; airports may choose to use the quick start guide as a starting point and then refer to the handbook for more detailed information as needed.  

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