Sean Wilkinson - Protecting Infrastructure from weather and future climate hazard using Consequence Forecasting

Event type: 
11 October 2017
2.00 - 3.00pm

Climate Change Research Centre, Seminar Room, Mathews Building 4th floor, UNSW, Sydney

Sean Wilkinson
School of Engineering, Newcastle University, UK
Climate Change Research Centre, UNSW, Australia

Dealing with the consequences of weather related phenomena is an age-old problem. We have made great advances in predicting the weather, but we have made little progress in turning the outputs of these forecasts into actionable information that can help us manage their consequences. Add to this the increased uncertainty that climate change is placing on our future infrastructure investment decisions and there is a strong argument for developing new ways of managing weather extremes for both our current and our future climates. This seminar will present a new forecasting framework (consequence forecasting) that takes the latest generation of high resolution numerical weather prediction models and translates them into forecasts of damage to our infrastructure and consequences to our communities. The system works by coupling the weather forecasts to geographic asset databases and damage models to produce probabilistic estimates of damage and consequence. The seminar will also demonstrate how to produce infrastructure damage models by using weather forecasts as high resolution proxy weather observations. The method will be demonstrated by presenting an example of consequence forecasting applied to UK electricity distribution networks impacted by windstorms. It will also discuss how the framework can be applied to other infrastructure networks and other weather related hazard, including future climate extremes and how in this application it is a useful tool for assessing different climate adaptation strategies.


Speaker Biography: Dr Sean Wilkinson is a Reader in Structural Engineering at Newcastle University who specialises in the resilience of critical infrastructure and how disruptions to these systems impact on society. He conducts research on a variety of hazards but is particularly expert on understanding impacts of earthquakes, having conducted numerous earthquake reconnaissance missions, and the impacts of wind storm. He has conducted wind related research for the European Research Council in the ECLISE project, where he developed a wind storm model for resiliency assessments of spatially distributed infrastructure to both current and future climate and was Co-PI on the RESNET project, a UK Research Council sponsored project that assessed the future resilience of the UK National Grid to climate related hazard. He is currently funded to develop a tool to make real-time predictions of potential damage to electricity distribution networks to approaching windstorms and this will be the focus of today’s seminar. Other work includes infrastructure damage models as well as system models that can assess the vulnerability of interdependent infrastructure networks and this will also be discussed in the presentation.