Currently, the greatest costs incurred are from road accidents, with the associated material damage and psychological suffering. However, costs arising from accidents are expected to decrease in volume, though time-related costs attributable to delays are projected to increase. In part, this is due to climate change, whose impact on extreme weather phenomena was addressed in the study, and because of consequent costs.
In the study conducted by VTT and EWENT project partners, researchers calculated the costs, caused by extreme weather phenomena for the transport system, its users and customers of freight carriers in the 27 EU member states. This marks the first time calculations have been completed on this scale and scope. The study shows that the mode of traffic most vulnerable to extreme weather is road traffic. It continues to have a higher volume than the other modes, with the additional factor of not being centralised or professionally controlled, in contrast to rail or aviation. In particular, the consequences of extreme weather are visible in road traffic in the form of increased road accidents and the cost arising from them. In other traffic modes, far more likely than accidents will be time-related costs with a variety of causes, typically delays. Aviation in particular is prone to time-related costs in extreme weather. The annual net cost in European aviation is on the order of billions of euros, borne by travellers and airline operators. Surprisingly, infrastructure related costs did not have a lion's share of the total costs.
In road traffic, heavy time-related costs are particularly frequent in freight traffic. At EU level, annual losses, measured to be around 6 € billions annually, are suffered by the customers of freight carriers as a result of time-related costs, and here is a risk of continued growth in costs. This is due to the growth in volumes of freight-carrying traffic, which is forecast at 1-2 per cent a year. Furthermore, improved efficiency in production chains accentuates the importance of adherence to timetables, creating further potential for growth in time-related costs.
Passengers in road traffic will incur time-related costs, as extreme weather conditions slow down traffic, keeping people away from productive work. At the same time, however, road accidents will be on the decline in the EU. VTT's researchers estimate that improvements to vehicle safety, along with the warming caused by climate change, may reduce the cost arising from road accidents by as much as half by 2040 -2070.
The impact of climate change is difficult to predict
However, the impact of climate change on extreme weather conditions, along with the cost arising from such conditions, is hard to estimate with any accuracy. In the North, where most costs incurred by traffic are attributable to snow and ice, heavy snowfalls may actually become more frequent, despite climatic warming. In Southern Europe, one cost factor to be reckoned, but which is studied far too little, with in the future may be heat waves, leading to decreased pedestrian traffic and cycling, and to increased motorised traffic. Moreover, as droughts grow in frequency, so will sand storms and dust storms, and as heat waves are followed by torrential rains, soil will become less firm, creating potential for landslides.
The traffic mode least affected by extreme weather is sea traffic. However, transport by sea is no solution to the problem of the time-related costs, experienced by European transport traffic, because cost-efficiency continues to be the factor that dictates the choice of transport mode. Bulk freight is transported by rail or waterways, with lower average speeds but a better guarantee against the vagaries of weather. High-priced freight, sensitive to schedule disruptions, is transported by road and air, which are fast transport modes but susceptible to the whims of extreme weather.
In conditions that are extreme but at the moderate end of the scale, time-related costs can be cut by means of intensified maintenance measures and improved communications. Unfortunately, the consequences of genuinely extreme weather phenomena are hard to predict and prevent. A decrease in traffic volume would have the most beneficial impact, brought about through improved mass transport, virtual presence communications, and remote work. As a bonus, this would make traffic more manageable not just for professional drivers; it would also help minimise the environmental impact created by road traffic.
The report "The costs of extreme weather for the European transport systems. EWENT project D4", is available at http://www.vtt.fi/inf/pdf/technology/2012/T36.pdf
EWENT consortium includes VTT, German Aerospace Center, Institute of Transport Economics (NO), Foreca Consulting Ltd. (FI), Finnish Meteorological Institute, Meteorological Service of Cyprus, via donau (AT), European Severe Storms Laboratory (DE), and World Meteorological Organisation (UN). EWENT is financed by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme.
Marko Nokkala | EurekAlert!
New study: How does Europe become a leading player for software and IT services?
03.04.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)
Reusable carbon nanotubes could be the water filter of the future, says RIT study
30.03.2017 | Rochester Institute of Technology
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences