STORMS: Strategies and Tools for Resilience of Buried Infrastructure to Meteorological Shocks

Lead Research Organisation: University of Birmingham
Department Name: Civil Engineering


BBuried infrastructure systems are vulnerable to meteorological shocks or extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts due to extreme precipitation, as well as extreme temperatures. Such events can lead to soil movement, thermal contraction and expansion, and sinkholes, among other problems. Despite the urgency, our society is not well prepared for the impacts of these shocks on buried infrastructure. Our understanding of where the risk is and how much it is remains poor, because existing risk assessment tools do not comprehensively consider impacts from both flood water and subsurface moisture/temperature variations. The extent to which the UK's buried infrastructure can cope with a significant weather event, or 'shock', is unclear. Such understanding is crucial for developing effective resilience strategies.

This project aims to develop a comprehensive weather-related risk assessment framework for buried infrastructure, which include cables and pipes vital to cities and urban lives. The framework will be applied to understand the potential impacts of weather events and climate change on these infrastructures. The project team will also co-develop adaptation measures with stakeholders to increase resilience to these extreme events.

The aim will be accomplished through five interrelated work packages. This includes 1) creating a broad-scale modelling methodology for hydrological conditions; 2) identifying current and future hydrological and meteorological scenarios posing risks to buried infrastructure; 3) employing advanced hydrodynamic modelling and vulnerability analysis to understand how buried pipes and cables respond to varying conditions; 4) integrating the developed models and datasets for a comprehensive risk assessment, and 5) co-developing resilience and adaptation strategies with stakeholders.

The project is expected to deliver significant societal and economic impacts. By enhancing decision-making capabilities among infrastructure operators and utility companies, the research can lead to fewer service disruptions, potential cost savings, and increased resilience of infrastructure systems in the face of meteorological shocks and climate change.

The project leverages expertise across multiple institutions, including the University of Birmingham, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and British Geological Survey, to address a critical challenge - the resilience of buried infrastructure to meteorological shocks, demonstrating excellent value for money by capitalising on significant investments in models, facilities, and national datasets. The anticipated outcome of this research program, including the tools and data that will be made available on the DAFNI platform, promises long-term value.


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