Analysis of vulnerability to climate-related hazards, such as flooding, typically starts with the distribution of people and economic assets in flood-prone locations. However, this approach provides limited information about the severity of disruption that may be caused in extreme and disastrous events, as it does not fully account for the economic and social dependence on vulnerable assets. Infrastructure assets are particularly significant in this regard because of the very high social and economic dependence on these systems, which can extend far outside the hazard zone. In this paper, we demonstrate a methodology that is capable of understanding this spatial aspect of the vulnerability for the Chinese infrastructure system to flooding impacts on both a broad and local scale. We apply the methodology to the rail and electricity sectors. The results show the locations of critical infrastructure that are exposed to risk of flooding on a broad scale. We are also able to calculate the potential number of customers affected – should infrastructure assets fail owing to one or a series of flooding event(s) – on a local scale. Interestingly, our results show that the critical infrastructure in these sectors is not exposed to high flooding risks; however, climate change may increase the frequency of flooding events in these locations and planners should at least investigate the flood defence structures in these areas.
Too big to fail? The spatial vulnerability of the Chinese infrastructure system to flooding risks
Hu, X., Hall, J.W. and Thacker, S.