Friday, June 18, 2010

Architectural impact of climate change mimicked in lab tests

The University of Bristol (UK): The architectural and structural havoc wreaked by torrential rain, flooding and fluctuating temperatures could be prevented thanks to analysis based on laboratory simulations. Through a series of tests using the combined talent of architects, scientists and engineers, experts hope to produce a clear picture of the anticipated effects of climate change on historic buildings throughout the UK, in some cases, over the next 100 years.

The initiative is part of a multi-million project aimed at preserving archaeological sites identified by the National Trust in Deer Hurst, Tewkesbury, York and Winchester, through a collaboration between the universities of Bath, Bristol and Southampton.

One of the key tests will be to assess the flooding risks using sophisticated flood and climate change modelling tools developed by the University of Bristol’s School of Geographical Sciences. The models predict the depth, extent and velocity of flooding using computer simulations, which map a range of potential flood patterns onto detailed terrain data taken at high resolution by scanning lasers, fixed to aircraft or road vehicles to enable an exact level of precision.

“Risk assessments are valuable in ensuring that resources are concentrated towards sites that are most likely to need flood protection,” said Professor Paul Bates. “What is unique about this project is the inter-disciplinary approach; working with architects and engineers will enable us to better calculate future potential damage and impact.

“We don’t know exactly how much climate is going to change in the future but we do have a range of things that might happen. Our aim is to develop predictions that will take account of the full range of possible scenarios. It’s a case of quantifying those uncertainties and identifying what action would need to be taken.”…

Windsor Castle and the River Thames from the Brocas Meadows in Eton, shot by Chris Wood, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0 License

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