Climatic Change

, Volume 130, Issue 2, pp 185–199 | Cite as

Adapting transportation to climate change on federal lands in Washington State, U.S.A.

  • R. L. StrauchEmail author
  • C. L. Raymond
  • R. M. Rochefort
  • A. F. Hamlet
  • C. Lauver


Research scientists collaborated with federal land managers of two national parks and two national forests to conduct a climate change vulnerability assessment and to identify adaptation strategies for a transportation network covering 28,900 km of roads and trails in north-central Washington, U.S.A. The assessment employed observations of sensitivity and response to climatic variability, downscaled climate projections, literature reviews, current management policies and practices, expert knowledge, and stakeholder engagement. Primary pathways for climate impacts focused on projected increases in extreme high flows and flooding, elevated winter soil moisture and landslide hazards, and loss of snowpack. The biggest impacts to roads and trails are expected from temperature-induced changes in hydrologic regimes that enhance autumn flooding and reduce spring snowpack. Projected higher winter soil moisture caused by changes in seasonal precipitation and snow accumulation could reduce slope stability. Earlier snowmelt may lengthen the snow-free season for visitor use and agency operations. Infrastructure age, design, maintenance, location, use, and limited redundancy along with funding policies and management, influence the sensitivities of the transportation system. Vulnerabilities were identified based on when and where these sensitivities to changes in climate may emerge. Adaptation strategies and tactics identified to address these vulnerabilities included: upgrading stream crossing and drainage design, changing use and maintenance, relocating or closing roads and trails, modifying funding policies, and expanding pubic engagement. Many adaptation options are “no regrets” approaches to changes in climate projected for the 2040s and 2080s that can be applied to other resource sectors and mountainous regions.


Debris Flow Vulnerability Assessment Landslide Hazard Flood Hazard Increase Soil Moisture 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank USFS and NPS staff for organizing and participating in the workshop and providing subsequent expertise, input, and vision, especially Dave L. Peterson. Climate and hydrologic data produced by Climate Impacts Group (CIG): Guillaume Mauger, Ingrid Tohver, Jeremy Littell, and Se-Yeun Lee. Figures (except Fig. 4) by Robert Norheim and transportation data provided by Christopher DeLorto, National Park Service Transportation Scholar associated with the National Park Foundation and Eno Transportation Foundation. We are also grateful for the comments from three anonymous reviewers. Funding provided by the U.S. Department of the Interior, Northwest Climate Science Center; the National Park Service, North Cascades National Park Service Complex; the U.S. Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station; and National Science Foundation, CBET Environmental Sustainability Program (Grant #1336725).

Supplementary material

10584_2015_1357_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (270 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 269 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. L. Strauch
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. L. Raymond
    • 2
  • R. M. Rochefort
    • 3
  • A. F. Hamlet
    • 4
  • C. Lauver
    • 5
  1. 1.Civil and Environmental EngineeringUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Affairs & Real Estate DivisionSeattle City LightSeattleUSA
  3. 3.North Cascades National Park Service ComplexNational Park ServiceSedro-WoolleyUSA
  4. 4.Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth SciencesUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  5. 5.Pacific Northwest CESU, National Park ServiceUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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