The report by the American Society of Civil engineers (ASCE) discusses the potential significance of climate change to engineering practice.
Civil engineers are responsible for the planning, construction, operation, and maintenance of physical infrastructures, expected to stay functional and safe for a service life of between 50 to 100 years. However, built assets are exposed and vulnerable to climate change-induced weather extremes, the paper says.
There is strong evidence for climate change with a future climate characterised by substantial increases in temperature, related increases in atmospheric water vapour, and increases in extreme precipitation amounts and intensities in most areas. As such, there has been an increasing demand for engineers to incorporate climate change predictions into project design criteria.
Global climate models (GCMs) used to by scientist to project global and regional climate introduces uncertainties particularly regarding the magnitude and rate of climate change effect over the design life of the systems and elements of the built assets. Engineers are required to design infrastructures that meet future needs. However, the uncertainty of future climate and the scale of engineering projects leads to a dilemma for practising engineers. This dilemma is a gap between climate science and engineering practice that must be bridged.
The report sums up relevant climate science methodologies, defines potential impacts on engineering practices, offers decision criteria, solutions, and pathways to address climate impacts.
Some fascinating discussion and information in the paper will benefit practitioners in the field of engineering – students, practitioners, and educators, allied professionals, infrastructure asset managers, the academia, and even national and local planners.
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Olsen, R., Ayyub, B., Walker, D., Barros, A., Medina, M., Vinson, T., Samaras, C., Stakhiv, E., Lei, W., Lombardo, F., Tan, J., & Wright, R. (2015). Adapting Infrastructure and Civil Engineering Practice to a Changing Climate. ASCE. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284672926_Adapting_Infrastructure_and_Civil_Engineering_Practice_to_a_Changing_Climate