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Assessing urban strategies for reducing the impacts of extreme weather on infrastructure networks

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Maria Pregnolato, Dr Alistair FordORCiD, Dr Craig Robson, Dr Vassilis Glenis, Professor Stuart Barr, Professor Richard DawsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Critical infrastructure networks, including transport, are crucial to the social and economic function of urban areas but are at increasing risk from natural hazards. Minimizing disruption to these networks should form part of a strategy to increase urban resilience. A framework for assessing the disruption from flood events to transport systems is presented that couples a high-resolution urban flood model with transport modelling and network analytics to assess the impacts of extreme rainfall events, and to quantify the resilience value of different adaptation options. A case study in Newcastle upon Tyne in the UK shows that both green roof infrastructure and traditional engineering interventions such as culverts or flood walls can reduce transport disruption from flooding. The magnitude of these benefits depends on the flood event and adaptation strategy, but for the scenarios considered here 3–22% improvements in city-wide travel times are achieved. The network metric of betweenness centrality, weighted by travel time, is shown to provide a rapid approach to identify and prioritize the most critical locations for flood risk management intervention. Protecting just the top ranked critical location from flooding provides an 11% reduction in person delays. A city-wide deployment of green roofs achieves a 26% reduction, and although key routes still flood, the benefits of this strategy are more evenly distributed across the transport network as flood depths are reduced across the model domain. Both options should form part of an urban flood risk management strategy, but this method can be used to optimize investment and target limited resources at critical locations, enabling green infrastructure strategies to be gradually implemented over the longer term to provide city-wide benefits. This framework provides a means of prioritizing limited financial resources to improve resilience. This is particularly important as flood management investments must typically exceed a far higher benefit–cost threshold than transport infrastructure investments. By capturing the value to the transport network from flood management interventions, it is possible to create new business models that provide benefits to, and enhance the resilience of, both transport and flood risk management infrastructures. Further work will develop the framework to consider other hazards and infrastructure networks.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pregnolato M, Ford A, Robson C, Glenis V, Barr S, Dawson RJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Royal Society Open Science

Year: 2016

Volume: 3

Issue: 5

Online publication date: 11/05/2016

Acceptance date: 05/04/2016

Date deposited: 11/05/2016

ISSN (electronic): 2054-5703

Publisher: Royal Society Publishing


DOI: 10.1098/rsos.160023


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Funder referenceFunder name
308497European Community
EP/I01344X/1ITRC project - ESPRC
EP/K012398/1iBUILD programme - EPSRC
EP/L504828/1Doctoral Training Account (DTA) - EPSRC