The National Academies

NCHRP 15-61A [Pending]

Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design Guide to Incorporate Climate Science in Transportation Infrastructure

  Project Data
Funds: $400,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: Roberto Barcena
Comments: Contract pending.


State departments of transportation (DOTs) are being asked to account for climate change in hydrologic and hydraulic (H&H) design practices. Current H&H design procedures stipulate the use of historical data assumed to represent a stationary process. Climate change introduces non-stationary risks such as rise in sea level, rise in temperature, and changes in the timing and distribution of precipitation, snowpack, and snowmelt. Failure to account for such non-stationary risks may compromise the operational characteristics of existing and future transportation infrastructure.

NCHRP Project 15-61, "Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design of Transportation Infrastructure," delivered a document titled "Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Coastal Design of Transportation Infrastructure: Design Practices."

Additionally, NCHRP Project 20-44(23) conducted pilot tests with state DOTs to determine the effectiveness and ease of implementation of the guidelines developed under NCHRP Project 15-61.

Research is needed to incorporate additional climate science information into inland and coastal H&H design of transportation infrastructure.


The objective of this research is to develop a guide for state DOTs and practitioners to use when applying climate science information to inland and coastal H&H design of transportation infrastructure. The guide must be based on defensible climate science and methods, and be focused on engineering practices.

The accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.


PHASE I — Planning

Task 1. Conduct a critical review of:


·   The reports prepared under NCHRP Project 15-61 with an emphasis on the design practices.


·   The NCHRP Project 20-44(23) final report with an emphasis on “themes,” “complexity," and “popularity ratings" in Chapter 4 and the study team’s discussions in Chapter 5; and


·   The NCHRP Project 20-44(23) “Panelists’ Guidance List” with feedback on the NCHRP Project 20-44(23) DOT proposed revisions.

Research, evaluate, and document other current appropriate climate risk assessment and design practices from federal agencies that may contribute to the accomplishment of the research objective (e.g., National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Federal Highway Administration).

The activities conducted during Task 1 shall focus on updating the existing design practices developed under NCHRP Project 15-61, "Applying Climate Change Information to Hydrologic and Hydraulic Design of Transportation Infrastructure."

Task 2. Synthesize the information gathered in Task 1. Develop an outline for the guide to accomplish the research objective, including the rationale (e.g., need, impact, required resources) used in the selection of the topics for the outline. Additionally, provide a timeline and cost estimate for the development of the outline to efficiently accomplish the research objective.

Proposers must leverage their knowledge in climate science, inland and coastal hydrology, and hydraulic design engineering, and draw from their experience to build upon the ideas and analyses presented in the available resources above and use them in the development of the outline.

Task 3. Prepare Interim Report No. 1 that documents the results of Tasks 1 and 2 and addresses the comments provided by the NCHRP panel. Interim Report No. 1 shall also propose a practical framework for incorporating new analyses and methodologies as these become available to address the dynamic nature of the discipline and provide an updated detailed plan for Phases II and III.


PHASE II — Guide Development

Task 4. Develop the guide according to the approved Interim Report No. 1.

Task 5. Prepare a draft conduct of research report that at least includes the following: (1) an annotated outline of the report, (2) the draft guide, and (3) the draft framework to incorporate new analyses and methodologies into the guide.


PHASE III — Final Deliverables

Task 6. Present the guide to the AASHTO Technical Committee on Hydrology and Hydraulics for comments and propose revisions to the NCHRP. Revise the guide considering the NCHRP’s review comments and prepare the final deliverables listed in Task 7 no later than 3 months after approval of Phase III.

Task 7. Prepare final deliverables including (1) a conduct of research report documenting the entire research effort and lessons learned, (2) the guide, and (3) a stand-alone technical memorandum titled “Implementation of Research Findings and Products”.


STATUS: The contractor has been selected. Contract pending.


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