Texas In 2100: Highs Of 125 Degrees, Melted Roads And Buckled Railways, Report Says | KERA News

Texas In 2100: Highs Of 125 Degrees, Melted Roads And Buckled Railways, Report Says

May 21, 2015

A new report predicts a future of extreme weather wreaking havoc on the roads and runways in North Texas. 

Arne Winguth, a professor with UT-Arlington, led the study and he joined KERA's Justin Martin to talk about its findings.

Interview Highlights: Arne Winguth ...

... on 125-degree temperatures: "The 125 Fahrenheit is a prediction for the future that is predicted for the year 2100. That would be the extreme temperature -- that is based on most recent climate assimilation from the National Center for Atmospheric research."

... on what extreme temps do to transportation: "There are various effects. The roadways will have increased buckling; there will be rutting of roadways - then there is also a problem; you may have higher congestion because of failure of automobiles or trucks due to tire failure, failure of air conditioning, higher rate of accidents due to heat related stresses. For railroads, you do have also railroad buckling -- and then DART tram systems: You have sagging of overhead lines. DART [has] reported A/C failure during extreme heatwaves, like the 2011 heatwave."

... on how seasonal storm damage will increase: "It is predicted that in spring that there is an increase in storm activity by about 10 percent. That means a higher likelihood of severe thunderstorms, a higher rate of tornadoes. In terms of rainfall, we see about a 30 percent increase."

... on the drought becoming longer and more severe: "What's interesting is that even if we have more rain that we see actually overall a reduction of the soil moisture. This is because we have such a high temperature that the evaporation exceeds the precipitation."

... how rapid shifts between floods and drought affect the infrastructure: "There have been studies from Hurricane Katrina that the lifetime of a road will be significantly shortened if it is submerged. So these shifts from a drought, for example, to flooding is that the soil moisture will not keep up as fast. So there will be soil transport during flooding. That can also lead [to the] decline of the infrastructure."

... on what can be done to address these concerns now: "In terms of budget planning, you need to have available budget to at least maintain the roadways."  

Arne Winguth is associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at UT-Arlington. Learn more about the study here.