By Sarah Dunn
Natural hazards have the potential to cause large-scale impacts and disruption to all countries and if these events occur in highly populated areas the impacts can be catastrophic. This has been shown by previous earthquake events in Christchurch and Haiti and by hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. The severity and lasting impact of these hazards are often linked to the resilience of critical infrastructure systems (including: water distribution networks, electrical systems and transportation networks) which underpin our communities and support social and economic development. These systems are currently being subjected to a multitude of challenges – from a changing climate, to increasing population demands and economic austerity. Therefore, we need new approaches to assess and manage the resilience of these critical systems.
One method currently being developed is transforming traditional weather forecasts into infrastructure damage forecasts. This is achieved within a modified catastrophe risk modelling framework, by coupling high resolution weather forecasts with empirical fragility curves (describing the probability of failure for individual assets) and an extensive network dataset. This framework can be used to forecast infrastructure damage, and resulting consequences, for current climate conditions, or could be coupled with a climate model to give future projections. The model has currently been applied to predict power outages within the UK for a forecasted wind storms, but can be applied to other infrastructure systems and weather related hazards.