Much of the nation’s infrastructure, including things like roads and sewers, was built with historical weather conditions in mind. But as extreme weather becomes more frequent, the report says, the past is no longer a good guide to the future.
In Hampton Roads, Va., nearly half of residents reported being unable to drive out of their neighborhoods at some point last year because of flooding at high tide as sea levels have risen. In the Northeast, sewer systems built for the storms of the past are expected to overflow more frequently as climate change brings heavier rainfall.
“It’s still not standard practice for engineers to think about future climate,” said Costa Samaras, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. While a few cities, like New York and Baltimore, have begun using climate forecasts in their infrastructure planning, he said, “it’s not as widespread as it needs to be.”