Carnegie Mellon University
Climate Change Adaptation

What Is Climate Change Adaptation for Infrastructure?

Climate change impacts affect the operation and performance of a wide range of infrastructure, and lead to demand for new or modified designs, adaptation in management strategies, and other changes. These include effects on transportation systems, materials, energy system supplies and demands, building heating and cooling systems, water supply systems, infrastructure in permafrost regions, and others. There are integrated questions that need to be addressed with respect to engineering to accommodate climate change impacts, including: 

  • How can regional climate change projection uncertainty be best incorporated into infrastructure planning and designs?
  • What is most important with respect to adaptation for particular kinds of infrastructure: climate change trends, extreme event frequency, extreme event peaks, or other issues?
  • What are the infrastructure adaptation needs of greatest interest for particular communities and regions?
  • How should climate change risk be valued with respect to current and future infrastructure?

Investigating these questions will enable communities, cities, and states planning resiliency efforts to maximize the performance and life-cycle cost-effectiveness of their climate-ready infrastructure investments.