Extreme events, such as the winter storms of 2013/14 and 2015/16, are associated with disruption to or even the complete loss of essential services such as water and energy supplies, and transportation and communication networks. As well as being costly to recover, the loss of infrastructure services can have significant impacts on people’s health and wellbeing, and local economic activity.
Infrastructure services such as heating, lighting, mobility and sanitation are essential for modern society. Current variability in weather already impacts the performance of the UK’s infrastructure. Climate change is expected to lead to an increase in the frequency and severity of severe weather including flooding, higher temperatures and possibly drought.
An increasing frequency and severity of flooding from a range of sources represents the most significant climate change risk to UK infrastructure.
Changes in temperature and rainfall will place additional pressures on infrastructure, in particular the rail, road, water and energy sectors.
Any increases in maximum wind speeds with climate change experienced during storms would have significant implications for many infrastructure networks.
There is evidence that significant adaptation steps have been implemented, or are underway, across most infrastructure sectors.
Whilst understanding of sectoral risks has improved over the last few years, the impacts of climate change could be amplified by interdependencies between infrastructure sectors.
Lead author: Richard Dawson (Newcastle University)
Contributing authors: Simon Gosling (University of Nottingham), Lee Chapman (University of Birmingham), Geoff Darch (Atkins), Geoff Watson and William Powrie (University of Southampton), Sarah Bell (UCL), Kevin Paulson (University of Hull), Paul Hughes (University of Durham), Ruth Wood (University of Manchester)
ASC contributors: David Thompson and Daniel Johns