Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnerabilities

Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnerabilities

Technical Report for the U.S. Department of Energy in Support of the National Climate Assessment

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Thomas J. Wilbanks and Steven Fernandez

108 pages pages | 8 X 10

Hurricane Irene ruptured a Baltimore sewer main, resulting in 100 million gallons of raw sewage flooding the local watershed. Levee failures during Hurricane Katrina resulted in massive flooding which did not recede for months. With temperatures becoming more extreme, and storms increasing in magnitude, American infrastructure and risk-management policies require close examination in order to decrease the damage wrought by natural disasters. Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnerabilities addresses these needs by examining how climate change affects urban buildings and communities, and determining which regions are the most vulnerable to environmental disaster. It looks at key elements of urban systems, including transportation, communication, drainage, and energy, in order to better understand the damages caused by climate change and extreme weather. How can urban systems become more resilient? How can citizens protect their cities from damage, and more easily rebound from destructive storms? This report not only breaks new ground as a component of climate change vulnerability and impact assessments but also highlights critical research gaps in the material. Implications of climate change are examined by assessing historical experience as well as simulating future conditions.

Developed to inform the 3rd National Climate Assessment, and a landmark study in terms of its breadth and depth of coverage and conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy, Climate Change and Infrastructure, Urban Systems, and Vulnerabilities examines the known effects and relationships of climate change variables on American infrastructure and risk-management policies. Its rich science and case studies will enable policymakers, urban planners, and stakeholders to develop a long-term, self-sustained assessment capacity and more effective risk-management strategies.


List of Figures

List of Tables

Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Background

A. The Development of the Report

1. Overview

2. Approach

3. NCA guidance

4. Assessment Findings.

B. The Scope of the Report

1. How ?Infrastructures? are Defined

2. How ?Urban Systems? are Defined

3. Climate Change Vulnerability and Impact Concerns For Infrastructures

And Urban Systems

4. Climate Change Adaptation Potentials for Infrastructure And Urban


5. Cross-sectoral Interactions among Infrastructures

C. Emerging Contexts for Infrastructure and Urban System Implications

of Climate Change

1. Socioeconomic and Land Use Trends

2. Sectoral Trends and Contexts

Chapter 3. Framing Climate Change Implications for

Infrastructures and Urban System

A. Sensitivities Of Infrastructures and Urban Systems To Climate Change

1. Examples from Historical Experience

2. Sectoral Perspectives

3. Model Integration Perspectives

B. Infrastructure System Services

C. Linkages Between Infrastructures

1. Analytical Approaches

2. Factors Affecting Vulnerabilities, Risks, Decisions, and


3. Insights From Critical Infrastructure Research

4. Characteristics of Resilient Connected Infrastructures And

Urban Systems

5. Assessment Findings

Chapter 4. Urban Systems as Place-Based Foci for

Infrastructure Interactions

A. Why The Urban Systems Lens?

B. Overviewing Urban Infrastructure Sectors and Services

C. Vulnerabilities Associated with Infrastructure Interdependencies

in Urban Systems

D. Infrastructure Interdependencies and Cascading Impacts: A Case Study

E. Emerging Leadership in Adaptation/Resilience Enhancement

F. Assessment Findings

Chapter 5 Implications for Future Risk Management


A. Overview

B. Two Case Studies ? Boston and New York

1. City Of Boston Adaptation Planning

2. Climate Change Adaptation in New York City

C. Adaptive Infrastructure in Other Countries

D. Assessment Findings

Chapter 6 Knowledge, Uncertainties, and Research Gaps

A. The Landscape of Needs

B. Assessment Findings

Chapter 7 Developing a Self-Sustained Continuing Capacity

For Monitoring, Evaluation, and Informing Decisions

A. Science Issues

B. Institutional Challenges

C. Assessment Findings

Appendix A. Adaptive Water Infrastructure Planning


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108 pages pages | 8 X 10
publication year: 
2 014