Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project
MRCOG recently collaborated on an effort to integrate climate change analysis into the long-range transportation and land use planning process. The Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project assessed the costs and benefits of a series of growth scenarios to determine how best to manage congestion, reduce emissions, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The project coincided with the development of the Futures 2040 MTP and utilized transportation and land use scenarios to assess the region’s resiliency to the impacts of climate change. The project was a partnership between MRCOG, the Federal Highway Administration, U.S. DOT Volpe Center, and federal land management areas including the Bureau of Land Management, National Parks Service, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.
Climate Change Scenario Planning Project Background
The Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project will assess the costs and benefits of a series of growth scenarios to determine how best to manage congestion, reduce emissions, and adapt to the impacts of climate change. It is important to note that these are the same scenarios that will be utilized for the 2040 MTP. The region was selected in part due to its arid climate that is vulnerable to droughts and wildfires and air quality concerns related to mobile-source emissions.
The project is a partnership between MRCOG, the Federal Highway Administration, and federal land management areas including the Bureau of Land Management, National Parks Service, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and will build upon the analysis conducted as part of the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, Futures 2040. The project also provides funding support for developing and analyzing potential alternative growth scenarios and incorporating environmental and natural resource variables into MRCOG’s modeling environment.
Climate Change Scenario Planning Project Components
The first step in the project was to build off of a recent Upper Rio Grande Basin Study completed by the Bureau of Reclamation to consider future climate conditions in the region. In particular, the project considered the ranges of potential changes in temperature and precipitation levels, and whether those changes will make the region more vulnerable to events such as droughts, wildfires, and flooding. See the climate futures report (PDF) and presentation (PDF) for more information on changing temperature and precipitation levels, as well as the reports on the effects of climate change on central New Mexico (PDF) and the resiliency of the region to climate change impacts (PDF).
Through the study the MRCOG region serves as an example for other metropolitan areas by considering ways to improve air quality and mitigate the effects of climate change through greenhouse gas emission (GHG) reduction strategies as part of the long-range transportation plan development process. Transportation results in almost 30 percent of the energy consumed in the U.S. and there are significant opportunities to improve conditions locally by reducing vehicle miles traveled through various strategies or encouraging less energy-intensive forms of transportation. Two reports were developed during the course of the project on potential GHG emissions reduction strategies (PDF) and the quantitative benefits (PDF) from applying certain emissions-reduction strategies locally. Analysis on change in CO₂ emissions was also conducted as part of the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, where per capita mobile source emissions are projected to decrease, though total emissions are expected to increase.
The study considered the impacts of climate change on New Mexico with particular emphasis placed on both the supply and potential demand for water resources over the coming decades. Water resource levels may vary greatly depending on changing precipitation and temperature levels throughout the Rio Grande Basin (for more information see the Bureau of Reclamation’s Upper Rio Grande Basin Study. What is more, the level of growth that is projected for the four-county region (about 500,000 new residents by 2040) may increase the strain on water supplies. Analysis was performed on how consumption patterns may vary depending on the forms that development takes within the region. Additional adaptation considerations included the extent of future development in locations at risk to flooding and wildfire.
Summer 2014 Workshops
As a part of the Climate Change Scenario Planning Project and development of the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (Futures 2040) two workshops were held during summer 2014.
Workshop #1 took place on July 10 with a group of nearly 60 local agency staff and technical experts discuss, debate, and evaluate three preliminary growth scenarios that have been developed as part of our MTP outreach. The workshop also included presentations on the range of potential climate futures, climate change resiliency and adaptation measures to allow us to prepare for future climate change impacts. Below are some presentations from the July 10 meeting:
- 2040 MTP and Scenario Planning for Climate Change (PDF)
- Climate Futures by Volpe USDOT (PDF)
- Bureau of Reclamation Managing Water in the West (PDF)
- Performance of Regional Growth Scenarios (PDF)
Considerable feedback was generated regarding the perceived disadvantages and benefits of the scenarios, as well as on the assessment of scenarios after their modeled performance was discussed, and on any "tweaks" that should be made to the scenarios. Initial preference from the participants for the "Emerging Lifestyles Scenario" was made clear although certain elements from the "Balancing Jobs and Housing" scenario were desired. For a quick summary of the evaluation of the performance measures and participants reactions to the three scenarios see the following documents:
- Scenario Performance Measures July 10, 2014 (PDF)
- Summary of Scenario Benefits and Drawbacks Workshop 1 (PDF)
During Workshop #2, held on August 27, MRCOG staff presented Trend and Preferred Scenarios and solicited input from participants to finalize any changes and to begin developing strategies to work toward the Preferred Scenario. The Preferred Scenario is now used to inform the transportation project list that is included in the MTP, and beyond that, serves as a guide for our region's future development. Next steps for this process are provided here:
The Climate Change Scenario Planning Project was conducted alongside the Futures 2040 MTP and was completed in winter 2014 to 2015.
The Climate Change Scenario Planning Project was conducted alongside the Futures 2040 MTP and was completed in winter 2014/2015.
Guidebooks & Summary Documents
- 2040 MTP (MRCOG) – Many of the findings and analyses conducted through the CCSP have been incorporated into the 2040 MTP. The same scenario planning process that led to the MTP Trend and Preferred Scenarios was utilized for examining the region’s resiliency to climate change impacts.
- Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project Final Report (PDF) (EMI/UNM) – Summary of findings and recommendations from the climate change project
- Integrating Climate Change in Transportation and Land Use Scenario Planning: An Example from Central New Mexico (PDF) (US DOT Volpe Center) – Review of the planning process and recommendations for further incorporating climate change analysis into regional transportation and land use planning
This document, prepared by the US DOT Volpe Center specifically for the MRCOG region, outlines a series of programs and initiatives that could be taken to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions make the region more resilient to the impacts of climate change. The Integration Plan explores potential implementation strategies for the following policy focus areas: Transportation Climate Change Adaptation Assessment; Mitigating GHG Emissions from Electricity Generation; Incentivizing Transit-Oriented Activity Centers; Regional Support for Travel Demand Management; and Open Space Preservation Programs and Policies.
View the MRCOG Integration Plan (PDF).
- One-Page Project Description (PDF)
- Overview Presentation (PDF)
- Project Goals and Objectives (PDF)
- Volpe page: "Central New Mexico Climate Change Scenario Planning Project"
Impacts of Climate Change
- Climate Futures Analysis Methodology Report (PDF) (Volpe)
- Climate Futures Data Presentation (PDF) (Volpe) - Climate projection results from global circulation models that have been applied to the central New Mexico region. Model output data available from MRCOG upon request.
- Flood Risk Analysis for Calabacillas Arroyo - October 2014 (PDF) (SSCAFCA)
- Report on Effects of Climate Change on Central New Mexico (PDF) (EMI/UNM)
- Report on Resiliency of Central New Mexico to Climate Change Impacts (PDF) (EMI/UNM)
- Water Availability in Middle Rio Grande 2040 (PDF) (Sandia National Labs)