Science Inventory

Toward Indicators of the Performance of US Infrastructures under Climate Change Risks


Wilbanks, T., R. Zimmerman, S. Julius, P. Kirshen, J. Smith, R. Moss, W. Solecki, M. Ruth, S. Conrad, S. Fernandez, M. Matthews, M. Savonis, L. Scarlett, H. Schwartz Jr., AND G. Toole. Toward Indicators of the Performance of US Infrastructures under Climate Change Risks. CLIMATIC CHANGE. Springer, New York, NY, 163:1795-1813, (2020).


Indicators have been proposed as a way to provide an on-going assessment of the state of climate change impacts on important US economic and natural sectors, as a means to support a sustained US National Climate Assessment (NCA). The National Climate Indicators System (NCIS) identified built infrastructure as a topic of interest for inclusion in the system. Built infrastructures are among the most prominent systems impacted by many kinds of climate-related extreme events, and are comprised of the buildings we live and work in, and our communication, transportation, energy, and water systems. Being able to monitor the impacts of climate events on these infrastructures is of critical importance to help address questions about the degree of impacts and potential responses to protect infrastructures and their services. This paper explores different aspects of infrastructure under changing climate conditions to address the development of a system of impact indicators.


Built infrastructures are increasingly disrupted by climate-related extreme events. Being able to monitor what climate change implies for US infrastructures is of considerable importance to all levels of decision-makers. A capacity to develop cross-cutting, widely applicable indicators for more than a dozen different kinds of infrastructure, however, is severely limited at present. The development of such indicators must be considered an ongoing activity that will require expansion and refinement. A number of recent consensus reports suggest four priorities for indicators that portray the impacts of climate change, climate-related extreme events, and other driving forces on infrastructure. These are changes in the reliability of infrastructure services and the implications for costs; changes in the resilience of infrastructures to climate and other stresses; impacts due to the interdependencies of infrastructures; and ongoing adaptation in infrastructures.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 11/25/2020
Record Last Revised: 03/16/2021
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 351040