Engineers Assess Impacts of Extreme Weather on EU Transport Infrastructure

Researchers from the School of Engineering at Trinity College Dublin are leading a €4.77 million project to examine the impacts of extreme weather events on EU transport and energy infrastructure.

The FP7 project, RAIN – Risk Analysis of Infrastructure Networks for Extreme Weather Events, has been awarded funding by the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme, and is being led by Dr Alan O’Connor, Associate Professor in Civil Structural and Environmental Engineering at Trinity.

In recent years, a variety of extreme weather events, including droughts, rain-induced landslides, floods, winter storms, wildfires, and hurricanes have threatened and damaged many different regions across Europe and beyond. These events can have a devastating impact on critical infrastructure systems.

The RAIN vision is to develop a systematic risk management framework that explicitly considers the impacts of extreme weather events on critical infrastructure and develops a series of mitigation tools to enhance the security of the pan-European infrastructure network. This project will quantify the complex interactions between weather events and land-based infrastructure systems.

Dr O’Connor said: “The outputs of RAIN project will aid decision-making in the long-term, securing new robust infrastructure development and protection of existing infrastructure against changing climates and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns.

”Technical and logistic solutions will be developed to minimise the impact of these extreme events, which will include novel early-warning systems, decision-support tools and engineering solutions to ensure rapid reinstatement of the infrastructure network. These tools will be implemented within a novel Europe-wide operational and response strategy that will emerge from this research. The ability of this response plan to cut across borders will be guaranteed by the pan – European multi-disciplinary consortium.Dr Brian Caulfield, Assistant Professor in Civil Engineering, and a part of the Trinity research team, added: “The RAIN project will highlight the most important links in the transportation networks, showing what the economic consequences are if a failure occurs in one of these transport links due to an extreme weather event.”

RAIN project partners include the European Severe Storms Laboratory, University of Žilina, TU Delft, Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions Ltd., Dragados SA, Freie Universität Berlin, Roughan & O’ Donovan Ltd., Hellenberg International OY, Istituto di Sociologia Internazionale di Gorizia I.S.I.G, PSJ, Ilmatieteen Laitos, and Aplicaciones En Informatica Avanzada SL.

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