Information Exchange: Publications

Global Climate Change Impacts on Coastal Infrastructure Services

Author: ICIS

U.S. Climate Change Science Program Workshop: Climate Science in Support of Decisionmaking, Washington, DC, November 14, 2005

"Consequences of global climate change (GCC) potentially have devastating impacts on the ability of infrastructure to deliver services vital to public health and the economy. One GCC consequence is increased temperature that directly can affect the structural integrity of materials used in infrastructure facilities. Many common materials such as steel and concrete normally have limited tolerances to large, prolonged temperature changes beyond a certain range, and can weaken or collapse under such stress. Another GCC consequence is flooding from rising sea levels, thermal expansion of water, and precipitation, since many infrastructure facilities have traditionally been built in low lying areas prone to flooding (Zimmerman 1996, 2003 with FEMA and USACE data). Catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrina attest to this.
Scenarios portraying vulnerabilities to infrastructure services from increased heat and flooding are presented, with choices available to decision-makers to reduce vulnerabilities through facility location, design, and usage. Measures for infrastructure planning, siting, design, construction, and operational practices in U.S. urbanized coastal areas that address GCC vulnerabilities are examined, including cases of adaptations to heat and flooding by new and pending large construction projects. This work covers transportation, water, energy and telecommunications. In addition, interdependencies within and among infrastructure that contribute to vulnerabilities are taken into account. Interdependencies include multiple facilities co-located or functionally interdependent; when one infrastructure facility fails, others also fail. Practices that inevitably pose vulnerabilities are identified for decision-makers as areas where new technological innovations are needed. This work builds on the authorís previous work cited below."

Date Created: November 2005; Date Posted: October 2006

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