What is it about?

Civil infrastructure ages with time, deteriorating due to exposure to carbon dioxide, compounds in the air, temperature, and humidity. This process has only accelerated due to climate change. Despite this, most studies do not consider environmental change while evaluating the aging of civil structures. The authors of this paper suggest using a new assessment framework to evaluate the seismic fragility of highway bridges. This framework considers the multiple hazards posed to these structures by climate change, earthquakes, and aging while considering the impact of existing climatic conditions on corrosion.

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Why is it important?

With global warming, carbon dioxide (CO₂) levels in the atmosphere have risen. This, in turn, increasing its penetration depth into civil structures, which then display an increased corrosion rate. CO₂ emissions cause a rise in temperature, which accelerates chloride penetration, leading to increased chloride-induced corrosion rates as well, especially in coastal areas. Raised sea levels and increased flooding only add to this hazard. This climate change-induced accelerated corrosion compromises a bridge’s lateral load–resisting capacity, making it fragile, and further increasing its vulnerability in seismic areas. Yet, existing literature does not take these new findings into account, assuming a constant or time-dependent corrosion rate for civil architecture. KEY TAKEAWAY: Accelerated aging may require civil structures (like highway bridges) to be re-evaluated using new parameters to judge their vulnerability. These structures are regularly used by many and need to be structurally sound. Hence, the nuances presented in this paper should be considered while evaluating their service life and safety.

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This page is a summary of: Climate Change Considerations for Seismic Vulnerability Assessment of Aging Highway Bridges, ASCE-ASME Journal of Risk and Uncertainty in Engineering Systems Part A Civil Engineering, March 2020, American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), DOI: 10.1061/ajrua6.0001038.
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