Almost all of today’s infrastructure has been designed using climatic design values calculated from historical climate data, assuming that the average and extreme conditions of the past will represent conditions over the future lifespan of the project. Yet, as the climate changes, the climatic stressors will also change, presumably imposing increased stressing on the infrastructure for which it was not designed.
To withstand the future climatic threats, new and old infrastructure will have to devise plans to adapt to the changing climate. The challenges involved are not a few. First of all, there are currently no technical standards to guide the design of adaptation measures. But most of all, there is much ambiguity on the severity of the future threat (for which adaptation strategies are to be devised). If future climate conditions are harsher than predicted, the adaptation measures will be doomed to fail. On the other hand, overdesigning adaptation measures (to protect infrastructure against the most extreme threat) can be waste of resources.