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Climate change risks to United States infrastructure: impacts on coastal development, roads, bridges, and urban drainage
Climate change risks to United States infrastructure: impacts on coastal development, roads, bridges, and urban drainage. CLIMATIC CHANGE. Springer Netherlands, , Netherlands.
Paper part of CIRA project in special journal issue
Changes in temperature, precipitation, sea level, and coastal storms will likely increase the vulnerability of infrastructure across the United States. Using four models of vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation of infrastructure, its deployment, and its role in protecting economic activity and property value, this paper estimates impacts to coastal properties, roads, bridges, and urban drainage infrastructure and sensitivity to varying greenhouse gas emission scenarios, climate sensitivities, and global climate models. The results suggest that the impacts of climate change in this sector could be large, especially in the second half of the 21st century as sea-level rise, temperature increases, and precipitation patterns become more extreme and interact with the operation of long-lived infrastructure. While there is potential for substantial economic impacts, particularly for coastal property, roads, and bridges, these impacts can be reduced by cost-effective adaptation measures. Mitigation policies also show potential to reduce impacts in the infrastructure sector – a more aggressive mitigation policy reduces impacts by more than 35%, and a somewhat less aggressive policy reduces impacts by almost 30%. The existing suite of models suitable for estimating these damages nonetheless covers only a small portion of expected infrastructure sector effects from climate change, so much work remains to better understand impacts on electric and telecommunications networks, rail, and air transportation systems. In addition, the effects of climate-induced extreme events on infrastructure are likely to be important but are incompletely understood and remain an emerging area for research.