The silent impact of underground climate change on civil infrastructure

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Urban areas increasingly suffer from subsurface heat islands: an underground climate change responsible for environmental, public health, and transportation issues. Soils, rocks, and construction materials deform under the influence of temperature variations and excessive deformations can affect the performance of civil infrastructure. Here I explore if ground deformations caused by subsurface heat islands might affect civil infrastructure. The Chicago Loop district is used as a case study. A 3-D computer model informed by data collected via a network of temperature sensors is used to characterize the ground temperature variations, deformations, and displacements caused by underground climate change. These deformations and displacements are significant and, on a case-by-case basis, may be incompatible with the operational requirements of civil structures. Therefore, the impact of underground climate change on civil infrastructure should be considered in future urban planning strategies to avoid possible structural damage and malfunction. Overall, this work suggests that underground climate change can represent a silent hazard for civil infrastructure in the Chicago Loop and other urban areas worldwide, but also an opportunity to reutilize or minimize waste heat in the ground.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCommunications Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 11 2023


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