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(UK) UKCIP - UK Climate Impacts Programme

UK Climate Impacts Programme (UKCIP)

Project duration: since 1997

The UK Climate Impacts Programme was established to help co-ordinate scientific research into the impacts of climate change, and to help organisations adapt to those impacts. It gives a general overview about all adaptation strategies to natural hazards caused by climate change.

UKCIP provides tools, methods, guidance and case studies that can be used to help organisations identify how they might be affected by climate change and what they can do to minimise their risks or exploit the opportunities.

The project works at the boundary between scientific research, policy makers and stakeholders and acts to coordinate and influence research into future climate and to share the outputs in ways that are useful to stakeholders. In June 2009, the current set of climate change information, UK Climate Projections (UKCP09) was published. UKCIP works with businesses and organisations to help them assess how they might be affected by climate change, so they can prepare for its impact and encourages organisations to use the tools (see project results) and information to help them consider their climate risks and to plan to adapt.

A wide range of adaptation tools and guidance has been developed within the framework of UKCIP:

Adaptation Wizard,

Climate scenarios and projections for the UK (UKCP09)

Risk framework, Socio-economic scenarios

Costing tool, Business assessment tool

Local climate impacts profile

Adaptation resources ,

The BRAIN (UKCIP's searchable database, examples and adaptation measures).


Link: www.ukcip.org.uk

(UK) CC Adaptation for London's Transport System

Impact of Climate Change on London's transport network

Project duration: 2004 - 2005

The aim of the project was to establish the severity and geographical distribution of the impacts of Climate Change on the UKs rail network by quantifying the potential change in frequency and severity of weather-related damage. The content of the project has been developed from the identified risks to the railway network, posed by climate change. Special focus was on rail buckles and other rail-related damage caused by extreme high temperatures.

The projects has quantified the increase in the number of buckles and rail related delays due to climate change, assigned costs to the resultant rise in delays and damage and developed recommendations for future adaptation.

Based on regional climate modelling, the project has focused on the change in severity of rail buckles and other rail-related delays, caused by the predicted increase in hot days due to climate change for the South East region of the UK. The main tasks consisted in

  • Quantification of the impact of current (baseline (BL)) weather on the rail network, leading to the identification of critical thresholds for buckled rails and rail-related delays
  • Application of these thresholds to the rail network under future regional weather scenarios to establish the future impacts of climate change on the network
  • Quantifcation of costs incurred due to a change in frequency and/or severity of rail-related incidents, caused by temperature in those regions


Conclusions and Recommendations

By assessing the number of delay minutes caused on days when the temperature reached the threshold of 25C or above for baseline temperature data, the impact of future temperature profiles has been determined by extrapolating the known impact of baseline data. This increase was then quantified by assigning a cost per delay minute and applying this to the predicted delays caused in each time slice.

It was shown that increased summer temperatures are predicted to double the cost of heat-induced, rail-related delays and buckles every 30 years from baseline weather to the 2080s time slice. It is very important to know that the temperature at which buckles can occur is significantly reduced by poor levels of track maintenance.

Based on the results of this research it has been recommended that the UKs rail industry considers a new maintenance regime in order to alleviate the impacts of high temperatures. Another approach would be to change the stress free temperature (SFT) of continuously welded rail (CWR) in the UK, to either a higher SFT or to have a winter and summer SFT.

(UK) Assessment of coastal Defenses at Dawlish

Impact of climate change on coastal rail infrastructure

Project duration: 2006 2007

The aim of the project was to develop a methodology that could be used to assess how the effects of climate change would impact coastal and estuarine defences. This could be used to inform any future investment and engineering decisions.

The rail infrastructure in the Dawlish area of Devon was studied, to provide a basis for assessment of other coastal and estuarine defences. The general methodology may also be applicable for the assessment of other infrastructure assets vulnerable to climate change.

Within the framework of the project, a topographic survey was undertaken of 15 typical cross-sections to define the Impact of climate change on coastal rail infrastructure structural dimensions of the defences. Using numeric modelling, future offshore wave conditions were and potential overtopping at each of the selected structure sections were calculated.

The main findings of the project can be summarized as follows:


For the existing defence crest levels and based on the mean of estimates, wave overtopping of the frontage could increase by around 50 percent in the 2020s, by more than 100 percent in the 2050s and by more than 200 percent in the 2080s significantly increasing the probability of disruption of trains and the potential for structural damage to sea defences and track. Based on the low or high predictions of extreme water level the increase in overtopping would be far higher (800% in the 2050s).

Impact on the operation of the railway

The analysis shows a significant increase of the incidents of level 2 (+67% in the 2080s) and level 3 (+400% in the 2080s) with respect to the current situation (level 2 = closure of the down line + additional monitoring and inspections, level 3 = total line closure). This indicates that climate change is likely to cause progressively increasing disruption to trains and damage to the sea defences.

Implications for the structural integrity and design of coastal structures

The analysis shows a significant increase in the 1 in 100 year wave heights, a corresponding increase in the wave energy and a sharp decrease in the return periods of current 1 in 100 year events.

This demonstrates the vulnerability of the current defences to sea level rise if they are not renewed to an even more robust standard.

In the absence of a change in the design specification, this work predicted that, due to wave overtopping, the frequency of disruption to services and the rate of asset deterioration will increase.

(DK) Copenhagen-Ringsted CC Impact Assessment

Copenhagen-Ringsted CC Impact Assessment

Project duration: 2008

In connection with the project on expanding the track capacity between Copenhagen and Ringsted on Zealand, the Public Transport Authority has carried out a climate change impact assessment for the project in order to investigate a future rail tracks robustness to climate change over a 100-year operating period. The assessment shows that especially increased precipitation and increased water flow in watercourses can impact on railway constructions, whilst other factors such as increasing temperatures, rising sea levels and rising groundwater will not have a significant impact.


Of particular importance is an expected 20 per cent increase in the intensity of rainfall in heavy downpours in the year 2100. This means that during heavy downpours more rain per second will fall than in the past. This has implications for the size of railway drainage ditches.

At places where watercourse cross the track, under a bridge or tunnel, climate changes mean there is a risk that water can not flow quickly enough and thereby build up and risk eroding the railway construction.  Because of the expected increasing intensity of rainfall in heavy downpours in the year 2100, the new track between Copenhagen and Ringsted will have a 30 per cent greater capacity for water flow than the norm that is used at present.

Download Fact Sheet (.xls)

(D) Analysis Delays vs. Extreme Weather Events

Coming soon