Climate Change Adaptation for Infrastructure

Civil infrastructure systems are at increased risk of failure under extreme events and a changing climate. Infrastructure planning methods have to move from designing using historical information, to designing under deep uncertainty. This will require the integration of future climate simulations into engineering applications. The current project compares methods to create intensity-duration-frequency (IDF) curves updated under climate change. IDF curves are commonly used by municipal engineers in urban drainage design to represent values of extreme rainfall. This comparison will allow engineers to understand how estimates of future, extreme precipitation are sensitive to the adjustment method, choice of climate simulation, and type of statistical distribution. The figure below presents an updated DDF curve in Pittsburgh for a single method (change factor), across a range of climate models from the NARCCAP project, for the time period 2040 – 2070.