finding 11.2 : key-message-11-2

Damages from extreme weather events demonstrate current urban infrastructure vulnerabilities (very high confidence). With its long service life, urban infrastructure must be able to endure a future climate that is different from the past (very high confidence). Forward-looking design informs investment in reliable infrastructure that can withstand ongoing and future climate risks (high confidence).



This finding is from chapter 11 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

Report authors developed this chapter through technical discussions of relevant evidence and expert deliberation and through regular teleconferences, meetings, and email exchanges. For additional information on the overall report process, see App. 1: Process. The author team evaluated scientific evidence from peer-reviewed literature, technical reports, and consultations with professional experts and the public via webinar and teleconferences. The scope of this chapter is urban climate change impacts, vulnerability, and response. It covers the built environment and infrastructure systems in the socioeconomic context of urban areas. This chapter updates findings from the Third National Climate Assessment and advances the understanding of previously identified urban impacts by including emerging literature on urban adaptation and emphasizing how urban social and ecological systems are related to the built environment and infrastructure. The five case-study cities were selected because they represent a geographic diversity of urban impacts from wildfire, sea level rise, heat, and inland flooding. The author team was selected based on their experiences and expertise in the urban sector. They bring a diversity of disciplinary perspectives and have a strong knowledge base for analyzing the complex ways that climate change affects the built environment, infrastructure, and urban systems.

Description of evidence base:

There is wide agreement that architects, engineers, and city planners need to consider a range of future climate conditions in urban infrastructure design to guarantee that assets perform for the duration of their expected service lives.87a21f64-2fec-4057-afa4-30bb29e09104,58332400-2770-493e-9094-e99a04cfae17,85f965f8-49ad-4baa-a255-94481ce3a9ce,31bf15ab-c374-4466-8b4c-894a527813cb,b49c3947-e410-4d72-a70b-3f17188d8a93,5074470c-c91f-455e-9785-73514983ec18,86d0da80-b180-4520-be24-bfc7d7151716,4c92405f-7756-474c-b8d9-a251d29823ab,7be3e21c-fdd2-47ee-bc70-d8458792c662 Many researchers and professionals from various industries—engineering,85f965f8-49ad-4baa-a255-94481ce3a9ce,31bf15ab-c374-4466-8b4c-894a527813cb,1efe3c54-7423-4c7d-9a39-f5dd34cf6b54,2e161cc2-78f2-4a23-9e35-dd915331c8b8 water resources,e7bfb64e-fd2c-462b-9fdd-9dcc978daaba,bc596c87-23de-4edf-9351-ff2fe74ba4c7 architecture, construction and building science,58332400-2770-493e-9094-e99a04cfae17,86d0da80-b180-4520-be24-bfc7d7151716,33bdc93c-e333-4694-af8e-f982e9396ef8,ab519cba-a499-48c8-88ed-322dadb14356,17d21069-8371-489d-b7b9-1c38eb443a92,a1ba2d6f-a9d4-40dc-8d99-9f5bd9b6c34f,9ca050f7-7d01-4bca-8fcc-726dc8b4498b,32c62e24-e3c8-4c03-8238-ae852396a88f transportation,0e0dc028-aefb-4130-8045-f6cdf4388afc,6c1f55e7-bedf-4091-a9de-7f3df6dc4362,23e451ae-5f97-48cd-9b2d-73045ee9e38c energy,f9f08a1a-4e9f-462f-a96e-3342cc6b7813 and insurance9a635a45-9821-4e1b-a219-bae2c4ba192e,d1181a6c-8e64-42b5-b520-9f5e51bccf76—are actively developing or have proposed strategies to integrate climate change science and infrastructure design. The Government Accountability Office, the State of California, and a variety of professional organizations have recognized the importance of incorporating forward-looking climate information (planning for or anticipating possible future events and conditions) in design standards, building codes, zoning requirements, and professional education and training programs to protect and adapt built systems and structures. This includes the need to develop and adopt design methodologies using risk management principles for uncertainty (see Ch. 28: Adaptation, KM 3 for more discussion)618ba3da-c9c0-4de7-bca1-1e76392b958b and the integration of climate projections, nonstationarity, and extreme value analysis to inform designs that can adapt to a range of future conditions.9c909a77-a1d9-477d-82fc-468a6b1af771,87a21f64-2fec-4057-afa4-30bb29e09104,85f965f8-49ad-4baa-a255-94481ce3a9ce,31bf15ab-c374-4466-8b4c-894a527813cb,618ba3da-c9c0-4de7-bca1-1e76392b958b,b49c3947-e410-4d72-a70b-3f17188d8a93,86d0da80-b180-4520-be24-bfc7d7151716,a2563406-b08b-447a-9aca-47b96427367b,76fb2a82-f93e-4db9-bed3-cb864bd9c751,0b3b1cc7-c58a-4141-9064-c0ecb1740086,97a6fbbb-6f2c-4074-9261-fa64126776c4,2504aae8-e29c-4f50-9716-499ebbe2a4c2,b3ef4094-72e2-4842-bb86-d37656e0d19b,f6ed088c-4010-4c1f-8f4c-cbb1e63abed9 Similarly, there is support for incorporating climate change risk considerations into the preparation of financial disclosures.9f559c9b-c78e-4593-bcbe-f07661d29e16,0d591fe5-6e77-46fe-9ec9-4c4932fe8729,4c92405f-7756-474c-b8d9-a251d29823ab,cf0c1f2a-489a-4ced-9b60-e7be6fd165f3,3144512f-e1ec-48c4-838a-c2000588c521 Reports from multiple sectors highlight the need for licensed design professionals, property industry professionals, and decision-makers to be aware of emerging legal liabilities linked to climate change risks.85f965f8-49ad-4baa-a255-94481ce3a9ce,bedceb42-b38a-453d-bd27-68b4f344cc49,d1181a6c-8e64-42b5-b520-9f5e51bccf76,d1d4c1c1-da80-49ee-ab2d-a87c4d32d431,e1ff7a34-62e6-4608-9c98-c3c9b61765d0,ce94342b-96f1-45a7-bace-f12353f56c31

Numerous studies document substantial economic damages in urban areas following extreme weather events and predict an increase in damages through time as these events occur with greater frequency and intensity.87a21f64-2fec-4057-afa4-30bb29e09104,bf972224-c8ca-4c0b-82f0-ebb735ba04ce,a72701dd-9c86-40c3-bf56-5b75c25f4d0f,e3ac668b-0cd6-40c6-afb5-2df1600ca96c,23e451ae-5f97-48cd-9b2d-73045ee9e38c,af014201-1af2-4f68-b959-ce78ce90adc6 Due to underinvestment in urban infrastructure9115ee8c-84a2-43a3-96dc-09b6fcacc03f,dec098f2-67cd-4d8c-80da-8a9502dd8ea2 and well-documented urban vulnerabilities to the effects of climate change and extreme weather,85f965f8-49ad-4baa-a255-94481ce3a9ce,31bf15ab-c374-4466-8b4c-894a527813cb,00e98394-26f1-45da-a5a3-e79b2b1a356f forward-looking design strategies are critical to the future reliability of urban infrastructure.87a21f64-2fec-4057-afa4-30bb29e09104,85f965f8-49ad-4baa-a255-94481ce3a9ce

New information and remaining uncertainties:

There are gaps in our understanding of the performance capacity of existing structures exposed to climate change stressors and of the available resources and commitment (at the state, local, tribe, and federal level) to implement forward-looking designs in investments.7be3e21c-fdd2-47ee-bc70-d8458792c662,00aa37c2-798b-4ad5-b52d-5cae5fe69088 The scale and speed with which climate security design principles will be integrated into infrastructure design, investments, and funding sources are difficult to predict, as are the implications for municipal bonds, solvency, and investment transparency.3a8eb70c-fd37-4ab3-8c43-d4380816421d,12518f8a-2ea7-4fff-b683-6f958bd306e7,0d591fe5-6e77-46fe-9ec9-4c4932fe8729,c22ded0a-455b-423e-9400-8e642834f736,beab0dab-2345-495a-bea3-ce18c11e5656,7be3e21c-fdd2-47ee-bc70-d8458792c662 There is also uncertainty regarding how the U.S. legal system will determine the limits of professional liability for climate-related risks for licensed design professionals, attorneys, and investors.bedceb42-b38a-453d-bd27-68b4f344cc49,d1d4c1c1-da80-49ee-ab2d-a87c4d32d431,e1ff7a34-62e6-4608-9c98-c3c9b61765d0,ce94342b-96f1-45a7-bace-f12353f56c31,964da67b-9191-46aa-9840-1bf3d4f87df8

The extent to which key climate stressors will change over the design life of urban systems and structures is uncertain. It depends on the rate of global climate change as well as regional and local factors.3e9b6eba-21a7-474e-9773-190a0ec18257,8be634e3-a62f-44d2-9cde-dd7010cdad04,7be3e21c-fdd2-47ee-bc70-d8458792c662 Engineering and architectural design is largely concerned with weather extremes,85f965f8-49ad-4baa-a255-94481ce3a9ce,31bf15ab-c374-4466-8b4c-894a527813cb,86d0da80-b180-4520-be24-bfc7d7151716,5239d072-e6d2-4d86-baa3-f978a93c48e1 which are generally projected with far less certainty than changes in average conditions.31bf15ab-c374-4466-8b4c-894a527813cb Action depends on how individual decision-makers weigh the costs and benefits of implementing designs that attempt to account for future climate change. The extent to which the U.S. market is able to innovate to provide these services to the global market is unknown.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is very high confidence that the integrity of urban infrastructure is and will continue to be threatened by exposure to climate change stressors (for example, more frequent and extreme precipitation events, sea level rise, and heat) and that damages from weather events demonstrate infrastructure vulnerability. Many urban areas have endured high costs from such events, and many of those costs can be attributed to infrastructure failures or damages. There is very high confidence that urban infrastructure will need to endure a future climate that is different from the past in order to fulfill its long service life. There is high confidence that investment in forward-looking design provides a foundation for reliable infrastructure that can withstand ongoing and future climate risks. How much implementing forward-looking design will reduce risks is less clear, since much depends on other factors such as changes in urban population, social inequalities, the broader economy, and rates of climate change.

References :

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