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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R007365/1
Title: Bringing the Mediterranean to Birmingham: impact and adaptation for 8-12 degrees of warming
Principal Investigator: Ferranti, Dr E
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
AMEY Birmingham City Council High Speed Two HS2 Limited
John Dora Consulting Met Office Myerscough College
National Highways Network Rail Worcestershire County Council
Department: Civil Engineering
Organisation: University of Birmingham
Scheme: EPSRC Fellowship
Starts: 01 April 2018 Ends: 31 July 2024 Value (£): 320,506
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Urban & Land Management
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
11 Apr 2017 Environmental Change Challenge Fellowships - Full Proposals Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Extreme weather causes damage to our infrastructure services such as energy supply, information and communications technology (ICT), transport, water supply, and more. Many of our infrastructure services are interdependent, and a failure in one sector leads to failure in other sectors. For example, failure of an electric substation due to extreme heat or flooding could lead to power cuts, reduced ICT services, and transport disruption because our road (eg. traffic lights) and railway networks need electricity to operate. Finding these infrastructure weak points that have a disproportionate impact across several infrastructure networks is essential for infrastructure resilience. Moreover, as our infrastructure has an operational lifetime of several decades or more we must act now to be prepared for future extreme weather. However, current adaptation plans are often done separately by each infrastructure sector (e.g. rail, ICT) and therefore by design do not consider infrastructure interdependencies.

This proposal presents an alternative approach to adaptation planning that breaks down industry silos and uses H++ ("worst-case") extreme climate change scenarios. High emissions and H++ scenarios predict the equivalent of Mediterranean heat for Birmingham and the West Midlands in the future. This proposal will consider the impact that extreme heat would have on infrastructure of the region as a whole. Particularly, it will look for weak points that could cause multiple failures across several infrastructure sectors. The project will use best-practice examples of heat-resilient infrastructure from Mediterranean cities to identify potential adaptation strategies that could be used in the Midlands. Best practice examples will be those that deliver long-term sustainability and multiple benefits, such as urban greening, which can provide climate regulation to build heat resilience, but also improve air quality, provide sustainable urban drainage, and positively influence health and well-being.

The weakest infrastructure links and examples of best practice will be shared with infrastructure operators/owners to facilitate holistic, evidence-based adaptation planning. The adaptation approach can be used in other cities and for other extreme weather types. Guidance documents will be created so the method can be applied nationally and internationally in different situations and regions. The library of best practice examples of sustainable heat-resilient infrastructure and heat adaptation measures will be available online for global dissemination.

This proposal specifically addresses the LWEC challenge by applying a system-of-systems approach to develop heat resilient infrastructure at a city and regional scales. Birmingham is an excellent demonstrator; HS2 and the new terminus station will arrive in the city by 2026. 51,000 new homes are required for the growing population. It also faces multiple challenges that will be exacerbated by extreme heat including increasing demand for electricity and utilities, an urban heat island effect, and transport networks which are currently operating at capacity. Now is the time for effective adaptation planning before long-term decisions and irreversible infrastructure development are undertaken. Crucially, as the West Midlands moves to devolved government there is the opportunity for leading regional research like this to shape governance plans.

Dr Emma Ferranti undertakes challenge-led research in urban climatology and infrastructure meteorology. She holds a NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellowship with networks including infrastructure operators, local authorities, planners, and professionals passionate about urban-greening. This Fellowship will enable her to establish a new multidisciplinary research area in decision-centric adaptation planning that utilises research excellence from the Schools of Engineering, and Geography, Earth and Environmental Science at the University of Birmingham.
Key Findings
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Potential use in non-academic contexts
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Date Materialised
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Organisation Website: http://www.bham.ac.uk