INTACT: Impact of extreme weather on crucial infrastructure

Extreme weather is a phenomenon that is seen in all seasons in Europe. Heat-waves, extreme cold, extreme rainfall, mist, snow, black ice, drought, gales and storms are having an increasing impact on the systems that keep our society and economy going.

The European INTACT programme – ‘Impact of Extreme Weather on Critical Infrastructure’ – was launched in May 2014 and, in 2017, it will formulate concrete responses to the complex challenge of maintaining the weather-robustness of vital infrastructure.

Wateroverlast Botlektunnel Nederland

Vital infrastructure is a broad concept, ranging from health care and food production to ICT infrastructure, energy production and transport systems. Weather patterns will alter in response to climate change and this will lead to more extreme weather events, with a potentially negative impact on the management and maintenance of infrastructure, the economy (due to system failures), and user safety.

The goals of the INTACT project are:

  • to estimate the risks of extreme weather events for the various regions of Europe;
  • to classify Europe’s vital infrastructure on the basis of vulnerability to extreme weather events;
  • to further awareness of the impact of extreme weather events among decision-makers and managers of vital infrastructure;
  • to identify potential action and technologies that will prevent damage to vital infrastructure and allow an effective response and recovery during and after crisis situations.

Effects of extreme weather in Spain

The results of the project will be brought together in the ‘INTACT Reference Guide’. This is a decision-support system for managers, setting out systematic methods and ‘best practices’ for protecting vital structure from extreme weather events.

Deltares is leading the work package of case studies looking at extreme snowfall (Finland), heat-waves and drought (Spain), extreme rainfall and landslides (Italy), and flooding and excess water (Ireland and the Netherlands). The cases as a whole were selected so that most types of vital infrastructure are covered in a range of geographical and climatological conditions. The Dutch case focuses on vital infrastructure in the harbour of Rotterdam and the links with the hinterland by road, waterways, railways and pipelines. Weather and impact models are being used to study the effect of the weather on infrastructure. Linking logistical models will make it possible to study cascade effects and intermodal transport.