Climate change is real, whether or not you believe it. While many are still trying to ignore it, climate change is presenting real challenges to engineers all over world. Climate change has impacted how engineers design structures and the materials they can use. One of the challenges that engineers face is to design and construct structures that can cope current situation while also controlling the climate change. Some of the effects of climate change are direct and can be felt through increasing global temperatures. In the following sections, we are going to look at the different climate change problems and how they affect the work of civil engineers.
Global warming represents one of the major dangers of climate change. Global warming is caused by the emission of greenhouse gases which lead to the greenhouse effect. The green house effect occurs through a natural process as well as a human enhanced process, and with introduction of fossil fuels the human contribution to the green house effect reached critical levels. Today, global warming has caused intense droughts and storms as well as floods from raising sea levels. With regard to heat levels, global temperatures are continuously increasing according to data from NASA, and this is going affecting how buildings and structures are being made and constructed.
As result of global warming, engineers are being to forced to respond with a green construction approach. Some of the solutions introduced include using recycled materials and eco-friendly equipment. Architects and engineers are now designing buildings to use more natural lighting ,and sensors that control indoors temperature so as to minimize on energy consumption.
INCREASING FLOOD ZONES
Civil engineers now have to design structures to control flood water due to raising sea levels. As an example, engineers in Netherlands, which is one of the most affected areas in Europe, are looking towards to architectural and structural designs for buildings that merge well with a water bound environment. The current situation has been to construct dykes to control the flood water. However, the increasing flood zones are leading to the need for more waterproofing and additional drainage for structures and buildings.
Even though some places are getting warmer, some please are getting colder. Scientists have found that severe winter seasons in some parts of the US can be linked with the increased warming in Artic. As part of the building solutions, architects and engineers are adopting techniques such as the cool roof construction to counter the problems of frozen ice and snow sliding down roof tops. Engineers also have to design buildings that can provide suitable indoor conditions for these freezing temperatures with minimal energy consumption.
EXPANDING DESERTS & DROUGHT ZONES
With deserts expanding and more drought zones being formed, engineers have to design buildings to cope with this climate change. One of the examples demonstrating this kind of design is the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center shown in the video below. The building was constructed using a modular approach, and designed to create minimal energy demand within the arid climate. Buildings are also being designed with water-saving structures to supplement on the urban water supplies.
Butzengeiger, S., & Horstmann, B. (2004). Sea-Level Rise in Bangladesh and the Netherlands. GermanWatch.
Cohen, J., Agel, L., Barlow, M., Garfinkel, C. I., & White, I. (2021). Linking Arctic variability and change with extreme winter weather in the United States. Science, 373(6559), 1116–1121. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.abi9167
Lacasse, M. A., Gaur, A., & Moore, T. V. (2020). Durability and Climate Change—Implications for Service Life Prediction and the Maintainability of Buildings. Buildings, 10(3), 53. https://doi.org/10.3390/buildings10030053
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