Transyt researchers elaborate a study that identifies the critical sections for changes in the climate in the Spanish transport systems."
When we talk about climate change, we most often think about ecosystems, the environment, fauna and flora or even the design of cities to adapt to new weather conditions. However, on very few occasions there is talk that transport infrastructures, and especially roads and railways, can also be affected in their layout by the consequences of a more extreme climate. A study carried out by researchers from TRANSyT (Transport Research Centre of the Polytechnic University of Madrid) has analysed Spanish roads and railways to measure the influence that changes in climate can have on our ability to access different territories.
In this study, published in the Journal of Transport Geography, Transyt researchers have participated: Emilio Ortega, researcher of the ETSI of Forestry, Forestry and the Natural Environment of the UPM, Ángel Aparicio, researcher of the ETSI Caminos Canales y Puertos and Belen Martín Ramos researcher of the ETSI of Montes, Forestal and the Natural Environment of the UPM.
396 sections of roads and 186 of railways have been analyzed in terms of territorial accessibility, understood as the possibility of reaching certain destinations and the possibility of being affected by changes in temperature, precipitation, aridity or days with extreme rainfall was evaluated.
"The problems caused by railway buckling, the sinking of the catenary cable, the cracking of asphalt or the softening of asphalt, among others, will not occur in the sections that contribute most to global accessibility" however, "Higher precipitation values can aggravate erosion phenomena on slopes and structures, affecting bridges, landslides and overloading of drainage systems due to the large amount of drag caused by erosion. Heavy rainfall in a short period of time can cause flooding on roads and affect the stability of slopes and road surfaces due to water runoff."
The study reinforces the usefulness of the "phased assessment" as an instrument for decision-making at the strategic level that allows the authorities to identify the most vulnerable sections and take preventive measures.