- Student Dissertation or Thesis
The 2005 hurricane season was particularly damaging to the United States, contributing to significant losses to energy infrastructure –much of it a result of flooding from storm surges during hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Previous research suggests that these events are not isolated, but rather foreshadow a risk that is to continue and likely increase with a changing climate (17). Since extensive energy infrastructure exists along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf coasts, 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 in these regions 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 using hurricane analysis developed by Emanuel (5). We apply the results from hurricane runs from each model to the SLOSH model (Sea, Lake and Overland Surges from Hurricanes) (19) to investigate the 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. With a detailed understanding of energy facilities’ changing risk exposure, we conclude with a dynamic programming cost-benefit analysis to optimize decision making over time as it pertains to adaptation.