Engineering materials such as concrete and steel are adversely affected by weather changes. These materials are mainly affected by heavy rains and floods. They are further affected by the extreme levels of humidity and solar irradiation (Valdez et. al., 2013). Climate change has been attributed to pollution of the atmosphere by greenhouse gases (US Environmental Protection Agency, 2018). At times, these gases mix with the rainfall to form acid rain. Continuous exposure of concrete results in the loss of its tensile strength (Zhang, Fan, & Li, 2012). This greatly affects the integrity of engineering structures spanning from dams to skyscrapers. The prevalence of release of greenhouse gases in urban/ industrial centers is a special consideration.
Rain has a cooling effect on buildings. Much of this effect is often underestimated. With climate change, some regions are likely to see less rainfall and higher temperatures. This necessitates a change in the design and construction of buildings to take into account these changes in the environment (Diaz & Osmond, 2017). Increased rainfall has an adverse effect on building walls especially limestone surfaces. Grontoft (2011) proposed that a 20 percent increase in the amount of precipitation is likely to increase maintenance cost of buildings north of 50 percent. This highlights the susceptibility of current infrastructure to changes in climate.
Climate change may result in floods. Floods are detrimental especially to dams. Most dams are built without the consideration of the effects of climate change. It results in increased amounts of rainfall which overwhelms the capacity of these water reservoirs (Rungee & Kim, 2017). Ultimately, it may result in the destruction of these dams due to the overwhelming weight of the water. Roads are not left behind on this issue. Increased temperatures have a reduction in the pavement life, thus a shorter lifespan of asphalt roads (Kumlai, Jitsangiam, & Pichayapan, 2017). In conclusion, the effects of climate change on infrastructure arise from the extremes of weather. Most of these extremes are hardly accounted for in engineering designs. As climate change becomes a reality, engineering plans need to change too.
- Diaz, C. A., & Osmond, P. (2017). Influence of rainfall on the thermal and energy performance of a low rise building in diverse locations of the hot humid tropics. Procedia Engineering, 180, 393-402. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877705817317058
- Grontoft, T. (2011). Climate change impact on building surfaces and façades. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 3(4), 374-385.
- Kumlai, S., Jitsangiam, P., & Pichayapan, P. (2017). The implications of increasing temperature due to climate change for asphalt concrete performance and pavement design. KSCE Journal of Civil Engineering, 21(4), 1222-1234.
- Rungee, J., & Kim, U. (2017). Long-Term Assessment of Climate Change Impacts on Tennessee Valley Authority Reservoir Operations: Norris Dam. Water, 9(9).
- US Enviromental Protection Agency. (2018). Overview of Greenhouse Gases. Retrieved from https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/overview-greenhouse-gases
- Valdez, B., Schorr, M., Quintero, M., Garcia, R., & Rosas, N. (2013). Effect of climate change on durability of engineering materials in hydraulic infrastructure: an overview. Corrosion Engineering, Science and Technology, 45(1), 34-41.
- Zhang, Y.-z., Fan, Y.-f., & Li, H.-n. (2012). Influence of Simulated Acid Rain Corrosion on the Uniaxial Tensile Mechanical Properties of Concrete. International Journal of Corrosion, 2012.