Predicting Climate Impacts on Infrastructure Aims at Preparedness
Much attention has been paid to the likelihood of more drought, fires and floods as the planet warms, but the most significant impact on public infrastructure won’t come from extreme weather events, Paul Chinowsky says.
It will be the the change in what constitutes normal weather in various regions — higher temperatures for more sustained periods of time, higher or lower average humidity and rainfall — that will most tax buildings, roads and bridges that were built for one set of conditions and now have to function in another.
Chinowsky is co-director of the Institute of Climate and Civil Systems and the Mortenson Professor of Sustainable Development in the University of Colorado’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering. Over the last decade, he has developed sophisticated modeling tools to predict the impact of projected weather changes on infrastructure and make recommendations about changes property owners and governments can make in building materials and systems designs to ensure they won’t face even more expensive repairs and failures 10 or 20 years down the line.
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