Research

Hydrology and Water Resources: Current Research

Climate Impacts on Infrastructure Systems in Washington State

Personnel

Summary

Although few statistically significant changes in extreme precipitation have been observed to date in the state’s three major metropolitan areas, regional climate model simulations generally predict increases in extreme precipitation over the next half-century, particularly around the Puget Sound. In that region, existing drainage infrastructure designed using mid-20th century rainfall records may, therefore, be subject to rainfall regimes that differ from current design standards.

Washington’s urban infrastructure elements are not equally vulnerable to weather and climate. This assessment focuses on stormwater management facilities in urban areas because the relationship to potential climate change (particularly precipitation extremes on which much of their design is based) is obvious, the consequences of inadequate facilities are severe, and the economic impact of increasing the capacity of stormwater facilities (or more severe flooding) would be substantial. Three specific areas – the central Puget Sound, Spokane, and Portland-Vancouver – were chosen for detailed analyses because they are the most populous in the state.

Collaborators

Stillwater Sciences, Northwest Hydraulic Consultants, King County Water and Land Resources Division, University of Washington Evans School of Public Affairs

Primary Funding

Washington State Legislature (House Bill 1303)

Related Publications

For publications on climate impacts on PNW water resources, please see CIG Publications.

Rosenberg, E.A., P.W. Keys, D.B. Booth, D. Hartley, J. Burkey, A.C. Steinemann, and D.P. Lettenmaier. (In press). Precipitation extremes and the impacts of climate change on stormwater infrastructure in Washington State. To appear in Climatic Change.

Rosenberg, E.A., P.W. Keyes, D.B. Booth, D. Hartley, J. Burkey, A.C. Steinemann, and D.P. Lettenmaier. 2009. Precipitation extremes and the impacts of climate change on stormwater infrastructure in Washington State. Chapter 9 in The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment: Evaluating Washington's Future in a Changing Climate, Climate Impacts Group, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.