A substantial body of research suggests that climate change is increasing the frequency and magnitude of geohazards in some parts of the world. 

While these effects are complex to model, new data is allowing for incorporation of climate data into geohazard assessment. For instance, research suggests that an increase in extreme heat days would lead to an increase in wildfire and, as a secondary effect, an increase in post-fire debris flow.

With support from the Federal Highway Administration, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) sought to understand: how will anticipated climate changes affect geohazard occurrence, frequency, and magnitude in Colorado?

AEM worked with BGC Engineering to better understand the potential impacts of climate change on geohazards in Colorado, CDOT highway assets, and the traveling public. Our geospatial analysts processed downscaled climate data, mapping variables such as extreme heat days, summer precipitation, and maximum daily winter temperature.

Our analysis demonstrated that Colorado should expect more wildfire, more extreme heat days, and more winter precipitation in the form of rain rather than snow. In addition to our analysis, our maps assisted CDOT in identifying where an increase in geohazards due to climate change is likely to occur.