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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.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Abstract
The third U.S. national assessment of climate change impacts and responses, the National Climate Assessment (NCA), includes a number of chapters summarizing impacts on sectors, sectoral cross-cuts, and regions. One of the sectoral cross-cutting chapters is on the topic of urban/infrastructure/vulnerability implications of climate change in the U.S.
Thomas J. Wilbanks, Steven Fernandez

Chapter 2. Background

Abstract
This report is a summary of the currently existing knowledge base on its topic, nested within a broader framing of the issues and questions that need further attention in the longer run. The main constraint at this time is the limited amount of research that has been conducted and reported in the open literature on interactions between different categories of infrastructure under conditions of stress and/or threat. Given this rather severe constraint, findings in this report about climate change implications for infrastructures and urban systems are necessarily weighted somewhat toward research gaps and needs as contrasted with specific vulnerabilities; but a number of general assessment findings, reflecting a high level of consensus, add richness to NCA’s understanding of cross-sectoral impacts and risks.
Thomas J. Wilbanks, Steven Fernandez

Chapter 3. Framing Climate Change Implications for Infrastructures and Urban Systems

Abstract
For more than half a century, climate change impact and vulnerability assessments have tended to focus on issues for natural (and human-managed natural) environments, where changes in climate parameters have direct effects on such systems as ecology and hydrology. Because human-built systems are so often designed in part to buffer human well-being from natural-environmental constraints, it was implicitly assumed that implications of climate change for human infrastructures could be treated as a lesser concern.
Thomas J. Wilbanks, Steven Fernandez

Chapter 4. Urban Systems As Place-Based Foci For Infrastructure Interactions

Abstract
In considering the implications of climate change for interactions among various kinds of built infrastructure and environments, urban areas are often of special interest, for at least four reasons (SAP 4.6). First, urban areas are nodes where all of the kinds of infrastructures come together in a particular place and are integrated in support of the functions of the urban system; as we know from recent experience with major weather events in the US, this close dynamic interconnection increases potentials for cascading impacts from disruptions. Second, urban areas are where the demands for infrastructure services are concentrated: where infrastructure disruptions have the greatest impacts on comfort, convenience, mobility, and labor productivity for the largest number of people. Third, for reasons having to do with why they developed in those locations, many US urban areas are in areas especially vulnerable to impacts from climate-related extreme weather events, such as coastal areas or river valleys subject to flooding and severe storms. Fourth, urban areas are important more broadly for decision-making about climate change responses; they are where the votes are, the financial centers are, the media centers are, and often vicinities where both university and industrial centers of innovation are located. Urban areas matter profoundly in assessing cross-sectoral interactions among infrastructures (see the NCA Technical Input Report on U.S. Cities and Climate Change).
Thomas J. Wilbanks, Steven Fernandez

Chapter 5. Implications for Future Risk Management Strategies

Abstract
Although risks to infrastructures and urban systems from climate change are significant, especially if climate change is substantial rather than moderate, risk management strategies offer impressive prospects to reduce those risks and thereby reduce the likelihood of disruptive impacts in the future.
Thomas J. Wilbanks, Steven Fernandez

Chapter 6. Knowledge, Uncertainties, And Research Gaps

Abstract
Because the communities of expertise, decision-making, and policymaking about risk management for infrastructures have traditionally been focused on single categories, such as water or transportation, the existing knowledge base about cross-sectoral interactions and interdependencies is limited, at least in research studies published in the open literatures. As indicated above, recent simulation and analysis initiatives related to national security concerns have provided powerful evidence that cross-sectoral analysis is both possible and illuminating; but the research needs for the topic of this technical input paper are profound, if questions about climate change implications are to be answered in the longer run. In fact, a high priority should be given to verifying and validating the report's assessment findings, especially where the current evidence is not strong.
Thomas J. Wilbanks, Steven Fernandez

Chapter 7. Developing a Self-sustained Continuing Capacity for Monitoring, Evaluation, and Informing Decisions

Abstract
For the communities of experts on climate change and infrastructures and urban systems, along with decision-makers and other stakeholders whose support is important to keep the assessment process self-sustaining, the challenge is to combine attention to both science issues (the what) and institutional issues (the how). Roles will need to be played by a variety of kinds of institutions beyond the federal government alone – foundations, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and universities – all of which have unique things to offer but limitations in performing some aspects of the continuing process. Universities may be especially important as institutions with long-term commitments to learning and communicating that learning, increasingly looking toward issue-oriented cross-disciplinary programs in response to both student and stakeholder interest. But a key will probably be implementation of the US Global Change Research Program’s Strategic Plan, with its support for decision support science and supporting assessments. In addition, the nation’s engineering societies – such as the American Society of Civil Engineers – will be an invaluable resource for knowledge development and application in assessing and responding to challenges for adaptive built infrastructures.
Thomas J. Wilbanks, Steven Fernandez

Backmatter

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