Infrastructures are the backbones of our society. Citizens, companies and government have come to rely on and expect uninterrupted availability of electricity and water. Road, railroad and shipping infrastructure represent the vital link between farmers, the food industry and consumers; water, road, rail and air transport enable affordable, reliable and timely logistics for industrial operators, traders, retailers and commuters. Water infrastructure is crucial to maintain safety and public health, sustain intensive horticulture, industrial manufacture and power generation (e.g. drinking water, waste water and water for cooling). Since infrastructure is vital to society, climate change calls for timely adaptation and transformation of our on-surface and sub-surface infrastructures and networks.
In the Netherlands we must prepare for climate change and anticipate for a higher North sea level, more hot and dry summers, more frequent and intense (thunder)storms and rainfall, and low Rhine and Meuse water loads in summer but in autumn these rivers surge. Central questions addressed are what are relevant effects of climate change on infrastructures? To what extent do these effects threaten the safe, sound, reliable operation of infrastructures, their availability and socio-economic productivity? How can we avoid congestion, service interruption, system breakdown or system crises through reinforcing effects rippling through interconnected infrastructures? Through what policies, strategies and governance can we adapt infrastructure networks and make our economic hotspots robust and resilient to climate change?
To address these questions, the central theme is: “what are the impacts of climate change on the operation of infrastructures and how to induce their timely adaptation and transformation”.
The programme of the consortium on Infrastructure Networks Climate Adaptation & Hotspots (INCAH) adopts a systemic approach to model infrastructure operation and development and complete models on transport, energy and drinking water infrastructure networks in the hotspot Rotterdam-Rijnmond and, for road and rail networks, at a national scale. INCAH’s integrated modelling will allow one to play-out the consequences of climate change, quick-fixes and determine whether they are indeed ‘no-regret’ and match long-term adaptation strategy and lead to increased infrastructure resilience and sustained performance.
INCAH has developed a systemic approach to structure and expand the knowledge of climate change impacts on infrastructure, explored adaptation strategies at component, network and management level and developed methods to assess the economic consequences. It is the quintessence of scientific work that the methodological part of this work can be transferred to and augmented by work done in other countries and institutions.
The consortium partners have invited a selection from their extensive international partner network. Their involvement is of eminent importance for the exchange of knowledge on infrastructure networks in densely populated areas in a changing climate. The international cooperation involves cross examination of studies and papers, exchanges of PhD’s and dedicated workshops in an international setting.