What is it about?

In the future, the effects of global warming will result in a warmer environment. This will increase the amount of rainfall, as well as the risk of flooding. Regularly assessing our current infrastructure, especially manmade earthen structures like levees is important to adapting to adverse scenarios. Even though they are built to handle turbulent streamflows, levees can fail if the ‘water load’ is exceeded during floods. This makes ‘water load’ a crucial yardstick with which to measure the vulnerability of these structures. In this study, authors used hydrological simulations to predict flood levels during the past (1950-2000), as well as the future (2049-2099). They then evaluated the effects on the Elkhorn levee in Sacramento, California. They analyzed the results to see how likely levee failures were. According to their findings, future floods could enhance the risk of levee failure by 100%, along with a 54% reduction in safety factor.

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Why is it important?

The approaches to converting large-scale climate data into technological applications are woefully inadequate. This study established a systematic methodology for engineers to conduct levee risk evaluation while incorporating the effects of future floods. The study is expected to encourage futuristic design platforms in which engineering constructions include risk analysis that account for the effects of climate change. KEY TAKEAWAY Risk evaluations based on historical data can underestimate the increased likelihood of levee failure. It is important to account for a warming climate and its effects while assessing the state of existing infrastructure.

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This page is a summary of: Levee Fragility Behavior under Projected Future Flooding in a Warming Climate, Journal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering, December 2020, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), DOI: 10.1061/(asce)gt.1943-5606.0002399.
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