Discussion of a framework for interdependent critical infrastructure vulnerability analysis from a climate change perspective

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Other Engineering and Technologies


  • The services that technical infrastructures provide are essential for the function of the society, as highlighted by many infrastructure crises the last decades. Many of these crises was due to the impact of natural hazard, which future frequency and intensity characteristics might be hard to predict given possible climate change scenarios. Due to physical interdependencies between infrastructures, failures in one infrastructure can spread and cause disturbances in other infrastructures. Additionally, geographical interdependencies means that a given hazard can affect more than one infrastructure simultaneously. As such, hazard impact on infrastructures may give rise to unanticipated cascading consequences if not a system-of-system perspective is taken. The common way to approach critical infrastructure protection is to start with addressing hazards that are likely to affect the system (i.e. a risk perspective). Based on the estimated frequency and intensity of these hazards, decisions are made regarding hazards to consider further. Hazards that have not been identified, or might be underestimated, in the identification phase will then not be addressed, which might be problematic given uncertainties in estimations. Here it is argued that it might be beneficiary to start in the other end by identifying systems’ intrinsic vulnerabilities, i.e. the inability a system to withstand strains, before identifying how specific hazards might impact the system. Although no plausible hazard can currently be imagined, there might be reasons for reducing a particular vulnerability, since in good risk and safety management practice we ought also be well prepared for unknown or uncertain hazards. The aim of this contribution is to twofold. Firstly, to present and discuss a previously developed modelling framework for interdependent infrastructures, inspired from both complexity science and engineering sciences, with special emphasis on ways to model how a system reacts to disturbances and consequences thereof. Secondly, to exemplify a generic geographical vulnerability analysis approach, which has the aim to provide a broad, initial identification of areas most vulnerable hazard impacts as input to decisions related to strengthen infrastructure resilience. Climate change related hazards that may exploit such geographical vulnerabilities include for example flooding, hurricanes, earthquakes, snowstorms, etc. which frequency, intensity or spatial orientation might be associated with great uncertainties. Examples of analysis is given from a previous case study of a railway system, located in southern Sweden. It as an interdependent infrastructure system composed of seven interdependent systems.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Publication categoryResearch
EventDeltas in time of climate change II - Rotterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 2015 Sep 242015 Sep 26


ConferenceDeltas in time of climate change II

Bibliographic note

Conference ppt presentation available at: http://library.wur.nl/WebQuery/clc/2067143