Improving Resilience of Global Transport Infrastructure

Climate extremes, such as floods and tropical cyclones, can cause significant financial and human losses. While the vulnerability of buildings and population directly exposed to climate extremes is extensively studied, a large knowledge gap exists in understanding how damaged transport infrastructure can result in cascading effects through disrupted trade flows. As observed during recent floods in Japan (2018) and hurricanes Irma and Harvey in the US (2017), locally occurring infrastructure damage and economic losses can result in transnational socio-economic impacts. This is particularly caused by an increasing trend of international fragmentation of production supply chains, which rely on longer, more complex, and globally distributed supply networks.

The main objective of this proposal is to quantify the vulnerability of the global trade system as a result of transport infrastructure failures due to climate extremes, and to develop adaptation measures to improve its resilience. To do so, I will develop a first-of-its-kind global spatially explicit system-of-systems modelling framework designed to estimate disruptions in global trade and transport systems, creating and using novel geospatial global databases and supply-chain impact assessment models.

In practical terms, I will develop a high-resolution global multimodal transport network, a geospatial database of industrial activity, and downscaled subnational multiregional trade matrices. These datasets will be used in a modelling framework that integrates multiregional impact modelling and network analysis techniques. The results of this project will provide more scientific evidence on trade and transport vulnerability to climate extremes, and will provide guidance in the development of successful adaptation measures to reduce this vulnerability.

The proposed research combines my current expertise on high-resolution geospatial and disaster impact modelling using open-source data and tools. The novelty and the need for this work enables high-impact research with broad and demonstrable societal value.