Climate Resilience Road Infrastructures

Natural hazards can cause serious disruption to societies and their transport infrastructure networks. The impact of extreme hazard events is largely dependent on the resilience of societies and their networks. Resilience of critical transport infrastructure to extreme weather events, such as flood, heavy rainfall or drought, is one of the most demanding challenges for both government and society. Extreme weather is a phenomenon that causes threats to the well-functioning of the infrastructure. The impacts of various levels of extreme weather on the infrastructure varies throughout globe. These impacts are witnessed through changes in seasons and extreme temperatures, humidity, extreme or prolonged precipitation or drought, extreme wind, and thunderstorms. The extreme weather events may result in disasters such as flooding, drought, or wild fires. These present a range of challenges to the operational resilience of critical transport infrastructure.

Since 1970, the term “resilience” into the study of ecosystems, resiliency-related research has been exponentially increasing. The concept of resilience has expanded to different disciplines, including (1) engineering resilience, or the ability of the system to resume normal functionality after shock; (2) social resilience, or capacity of humans to anticipate and plan for the future; (3) ecological resilience, or the speed of return to stability domain; (4) material resilience, or the ability of material to absorb energy when elastically deformed; and (5) psychology resilience, or the ability of an individual to withstand stress and bounce back or recover from traumatic situations. However, engineering resilience will be important when discussing drainage or transport infrastructure systems. Resilience, when applied to infrastructure systems, implies the ability of such infrastructure systems (including their interconnected ecosystems and social systems) to absorb disturbance and recover after a disturbance.

The economic and societal relevance of the dependency and resilience of critical transport infrastructure is obvious: infrastructure malfunctions and outages can have far reaching consequences and impacts on economy and society. The cost of developing and maintaining critical transport infrastructure is high if they are expected to have a realistic functional and economic life (i.e. 50+ years). Hence, future extreme weather events have to be taken into account when considering protection measures, mitigation measures and adaption measures to reflect actual and predicted instances of critical transport infrastructure failures.

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