Using Climate Models to Estimate Urban Vulnerability to Flash Floods
PublisherAmerican Meteorological Society
MetadataShow full item record
Climate change will impact urban infrastructure networks by changing precipitation patterns in a region. This study presents a novel vulnerability assessment framework for infrastructure networks against extreme rainfall-induced flash floods, with a specific application to transportation. The framework combines climate models, network science, geographical information systems (GIS), and stochastic modeling to compile a vulnerability surface (VS). Daily precipitation simulations for 2006-2100 from the Community Climate System Model, version 4 (CCSM4), are used to produce a stochastic simulation of extreme flash flood events in five U.S. cities-that is, Boston, Massachusetts; Houston, Texas; Miami, Florida; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-under two different climate scenarios (RCP4.5 and RCP8.5). To assess the impact of these events, percentage drops in static (i.e., overall properties and robustness topological indicators) and dynamic (i.e., GIS accessibility and travel demand metrics) network properties are measured before and after simulated extreme events. The results of these metrics are inputs on a radar diagram to form a VS. Overall, the results show that changes in flash flood frequency due to climate change can have a significant impact on road networks, as was demonstrated recently in Houston, Texas. The magnitude of these impacts is chiefly associated with the geographic location of the cities and the size of the networks. The proposed framework can be reproduced in any city around the world, and researchers can use the results as guidelines for infrastructure design and planning purposes. Moreover, sensitivity analysis to varying greenhouse gas concentration trajectories can help local and national authorities to prioritize strategies for adaptation to climate change in more vulnerable regions.