- Joint Program Report
The 2005 hurricane season was particularly damaging to the United States, contributing to significant losses to energy infrastructure—much of it the result of flooding from storm surge during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City and Northern New Jersey. Research suggests that these events are not isolated, but rather foreshadow a risk that is to continue and likely increase with a changing climate. Extensive energy infrastructure is located along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, and these facilities are exposed to an increasing risk of flooding. We study the combined impacts of anticipated sea level rise, hurricane activity and subsidence on energy infrastructure with a first application to Galveston Bay. Using future climate conditions as projected by four different Global Circulation Models (GCMs), we model the change in hurricane activity from present day climate conditions in response to a climate projected in 2100 under the IPCC A1B emissions scenario. We apply the results from hurricane runs from each model to the SLOSH model to investigate the projected change in frequency and distribution of surge heights across climates. Further, we incorporate uncertainty surrounding the magnitude of sea level rise and subsidence, resulting in more detailed projections of risk levels for energy infrastructure over the next century. Applying this model of changing risk exposure, we apply a dynamic programming cost-benefit analysis to the adaptation decision.