Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Infrastructure Using IPWEA’s Manual

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Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Infrastructure Using IPWEA’s Manual

The Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA), the association of professional delivering public works and engineering services in Australia and New Zealand, has released an outstanding resource for infrastructure managers wanting to know the impacts of climate change on assets an infrastructure.

IPWEA’s Climate Change Impacts on the Useful Life of Infrastructure Practice Note 12.1 (2018) accompanies Practice 12 and infrastructure managers should use both together.

The Practice note “provides a methodology and guidance for asset managers on how to assess the impact of climate change on infrastructure useful life to the year 2100 to help entities obtain a more reliable annual depreciation expense and consequently more reliable operating results.”

The note contains the following information, and each section includes a case study as an illustration of the topics discussed.

  • Present and future climate change trends in temperature increases, rainfall patterns, ocean changes, heatwaves, bushfires, high wind events and cyclones using global climate models.
  • Climate change impacts infrastructure such as bridges, footpaths, sealed and unsealed roads, buildings, etc., the physical damage and usage effects caused by climate change. This section also provides a case study that applies current climate trend and future climate projections to improve an existing road and bridge prone to heavy rains and flooding in Warriewood, Sydney.
  • Climate change impacts asset materials like concrete, bitumen, steel, wood, PVC, physical damage, and chemical deterioration caused by climate change. A case study of Collaroy Beach Stormwater outlet shows how climate adaptation is incorporated into its stormwater replacement outlet’s design. A storm event destroyed the stormwater outlet, and its useful life terminated. A high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe is built into the seawall to increase its useful life and protect it against corrosion from storm events.
  • Climate adaptation measures that usually fall into these three strategies: accommodate, protect/defend, and retreat and how it can be applied to climate change effects like high temperatures or heatwaves, low rainfall or drought, increase bushfire weather, sea-level rise and saltwater intrusion, etc.
  • Quantitative modelling of climate change, this section identifies climate models available in Australia and New Zealand and the assets and climate variables in each model to estimate the impacts of climate change on the asset’s useful life.
  • Guide for asset managers to estimate the impacts of climate change on the asset’s useful life through the Decision Tree Worksheet.  The decision tree worksheet involves five steps: identifying existing asset, expected climate changes and impacts, adaptation measure, estimate change to an asset’s useful life, and actions taken.

“The Practice note is designed to raise awareness of climate change and its potential impacts to infrastructure and assets, help asset managers make informed decision to minimize and even extend the life of existing vulnerable assets, and consider the cost of a premature end to useful life caused by climate change.”

To get a copy of the Practice Note 12.1, click the link below:

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