Climate Change and Rising Sea Levels: A Geographic Information Systems Analysis of the Potential Impact on Railroad Corridors in New Castle County Delaware

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In the past century continued investment in infrastructure along the east coast of the United States has supported economic growth and development; unfortunately this investment also comes with a certain degree of vulnerability. The advanced infrastructure along the east coast combined with the impending threat of climate change and rising sea levels has led many people to prepare for the potential impacts. The resiliency of railroad corridors along the east coast has its limitations, one of which is its resistance to floods. The spatial representation and analysis capabilities of computer based geographical information systems (GIS) are used to develop a comprehensive visual illustration of the impact areas in which rail road corridors in New Castle County, Delaware are in danger of being either flooded or perhaps destroyed. The goal of this research is to possibly affect some policies involving raising the elevations of rail beds or even relocating the tracks to less flood prone locations. Moreover, the goal is to help prevent damage of the nation’s infrastructure along the east coast. Based on this research, there are many possible areas of impact of sea level rise for the railroad lines in New Castle County, Delaware. More specifically, the Port of Wilmington is the most likely to be affected. However, the railroad data used assumes the rail lines are on the same elevation as the ground surface in all regions of the county. Since this is not true, further research is needed using more accurate railroad elevation data.
Ecology, Floods-Case Studies, Transportation, Computer Technology, Risk Analysis