Airports struggle to adapt to climate change

Norway, seawall, airports, climate change, hong kong, sea level, temperatures, extreme, weather, runway, heat, canada, permafrost

Changing weather provokes new measures – in Norway too
Most airports around the world were built before the impact of climate change began to be felt, but now designers are taking the changing weather into account.
Many were constructed close to coastlines or river deltas, to minimise disturbances to people and avoid mountain ranges. Planners also gave little thought to increasingly extreme temperatures.
Now, low-lying airports are vulnerable to rising sea levels and storm surges, while hotter temperatures may cause tarmac to melt. Huge amounts are being invested to fight these problems.
In Norway, around 20 of the 45 state-run airports are “quite exposed” to rising sea levels, says Olav Mosvold Larsen, a climate change adviser at airport operator Avinor. So Avinor has decided to build all future runways at least 7 metres above sea level.
In Hong Kong, a new third runway to be built on reclaimed land, now estimated to cost $18 billion, will have a seawall at least 6.4 metres above the waterline.
Runways in northern Canada are already damaged by thawing permafrost, with Iqaluit International Airport for example getting a $240 million renovation.
Meanwhile, concrete runway slabs are in danger of buckling from extreme heat, and there is “serious concern” that asphalt on aprons and parking areas could melt, according to Herbert Pümpel of the World Meteorological Organization. There are concerns too about maximum operating temperatures for aircraft.
The New York Times


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