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Climate resilience of interdependent transport and energy infrastructure informed by emerging digital technologies

The performance of transport and energy infrastructure is continuously challenged by multiple natural hazards, exacerbated by climate change. The frequency and intensity of disasters including flash floods, landslides, hurricanes or bushfires are increased, causing environmental, economic and societal impacts, in particular due to failures of ageing and over-utilised transport and power networks.

Currently, there is an urgent need for integrated toolkits to quantify the resilience of infrastructure and their interdependencies to climate change. More importantly, a vast of monitoring data and evidence, which is being made available daily to infrastructure owners remains unexploited. This includes terrestrial, e.g. data generated by cameras and mobile activity, and airborne data, e.g. InSAR, hyperspectral imaging, aerial photography etc.

This wealth of information provides reliable means for producing accurate and rapidly informed resilience assessments. This research aims at developing an integrated framework inclusive of lifecycle metrics (e.g. cost- and/or environment-based), for the monitoring-based quantification of resilience for transport and energy assets exposed to multiple natural hazards and climate change effects.

The framework will embrace: (i) the robustness of the assets (e.g. bridges, embankments, tunnels, electric power substations) to hazard actions based on new functionality and vulnerability models considering interdependencies, (ii) the rapidity of the recovery, based on expert elicitation and practical reinstatement and restoration models, (iii) the monitoring data related to the performance and capacity of the assets, to better inform the above models.

The new models will be encapsulated in a toolkit, which will be demonstrated through selected case studies in the UK using GIS tools.

This project is in support of all infrastructure management stages, i.e. prior, during and after multiple, cumulative and/or abrupt natural hazards (see Argyroudis et al., 2020; Achillopoulou et al., 2020), accounting for potential exacerbations of natural stressors due to adverse climatic deviations.

The research also contributes to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for delivering climate-resilient infrastructure (SDG9) and sustainable industrialization, making the world safer from multiple hazards (SDG11), whilst adapting quickly and efficiently to the planet’s changing climate (SDG13).

Candidates for this project will likely have a background in civil and environmental engineering and/or surveying engineering and/or electrical engineering. Familiarity with climate change models and/or network modelling will be an advantage. Yet, adjustments can be made to tailor the project to students’ needs and interests. The lead supervisor will be Dr Sotirios Argyroudis, more information:

Geotechnical and Environmental Engineering

References

  • Argyroudis, SA. and Mitoulis, SA. (2021) 'Vulnerability of bridges to individual and multiple hazards- floods and earthquakes'. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 210. pp. 107564 - 107564. ISSN: 0951-8320
  • Mitoulis, SA., Argyroudis, S., Loli, M. and Boulent, I.(2021) 'Restoration models for quantifying flood resilience of bridges'. Engineering Structures, 238. pp. 1 - 17. ISSN: 0141-0296
  • Achillopoulou, DV., Mitoulis, SA., Argyroudis, SA. and Wang, Y. (2020) 'Monitoring of transport infrastructure exposed to multiple hazards: a roadmap for building resilience'. Science of the Total Environment, 746. pp. 141001 - 141001. ISSN: 0048-9697
  • Argyroudis, SA., Mitoulis, SA., Hofer, L., Zanini, MA., Tubaldi, E. and Frangopol, DM. (2020) 'Resilience assessment framework for critical infrastructure in a multi-hazard environment: Case study on transport assets'. Science of the Total Environment, 714. pp. 136854 - 136854. ISSN: 0048-9697
  • Smith, AW., Argyroudis, SA., Winter, MG. and Mitoulis, SA. (2021) 'Economic impact of road bridge functionality loss from a resilience perspective: Queensferry Crossing'. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Bridge Engineering, In press. pp. 1 - 11. ISSN: 1478-4637
  • Argyroudis, SA., Mitoulis, S., Winter, MG. and Kaynia, AM. (2019) 'Fragility of transport assets exposed to multiple hazards: State-of-the-art review toward infrastructural resilience'. Reliability Engineering and System Safety, 191. pp. 106567 - 106567. ISSN: 0951-8320

How to apply

If you are interested in applying for the above PhD topic please follow the steps below:

  1. Contact the supervisor by email or phone to discuss your interest and find out if you woold be suitable. Supervisor details can be found on this topic page. The supervisor will guide you in developing the topic-specific research proposal, which will form part of your application.
  2. Click on the 'Apply here' button on this page and you will be taken to the relevant PhD course page, where you can apply using an online application.
  3. Complete the online application indicating your selected supervisor and include the research proposal for the topic you have selected.

Good luck!

This is a self funded topic

Brunel offers a number of funding options to research students that help cover the cost of their tuition fees, contribute to living expenses or both. See more information here: https://www.brunel.ac.uk/research/Research-degrees/Research-degree-funding. The UK Government is also offering Doctoral Student Loans for eligible students, and there is some funding available through the Research Councils. Many of our international students benefit from funding provided by their governments or employers. Brunel alumni enjoy tuition fee discounts of 15%.