A ‘Locational Reference Frame’ for Assessing Climate Change Impacts on Infrastructure

F.W. Pontius. Sustainable Infrastructure: Climate Changes and Carbon Dioxide. American Journal of Civil Engineering Volume 5, Issue 5, September 2017, Pages: 254-267

Civil infrastructure provides the physical backbone of all societies. Water supply, wastewater treatment, transportation systems, and civil structures must be sustainable over multiple decades (e.g. 20, 30, 50 years) for human populations to survive and flourish. Over such a long time-period, climate changes are inevitable. The global atmospheric system is dynamic. Weather and climates are constantly adjusting. To date the effects of carbon dioxide have been evaluated almost exclusively using a global reference frame. However, civil infrastructure is stationary and local in nature. A locational reference frame is introduced here as an alternative framework for evaluating the effect of carbon dioxide on civil infrastructure. Temperature data from the City of Riverside, California from 1901 to 2017 are analyzed to illustrate application of a local reference frame. No evidence of significant climate change beyond natural variability was observed in this temperature record. Using a Climate Sensitivity best estimate of 2°C, the increase in temperature resulting from a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is estimated at approximately 0.009°C/yr which is insignificant compared to natural variability.

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