Claim: Climate change undermines the safety of buildings and infrastructure in Europe


Research News


Buildings and infrastructure also need to adapt to the changing climate. Updating structural design standards is crucial to improving European climate resilience and ensuring the safety of constructions, that are expected to suffer from changes in atmospheric variables and more frequent and intense extreme weather events.

In 2017, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) – the European Commission’s science and knowledge service – established the scientific network on adaptation of structural design to climate change. A network of experts, which includes the CMCC Foundation, dedicated to studying how research can help decision-makers take predicted changes in the climate system into account when amending the Eurocodes, the European standards for structural design.

The role of expected increases in temperature in Europe over the coming decades is at the centre of two new reports realised by the network, the first focused on thermal actions on structures (Thermal design of structures and the changing climate), and the other on corrosion in the context of a changing climate (Expected implications of climate change on the corrosion of structures).

In their contribution to these publications, CMCC researchers from the REMHI division – Regional Models and geo-Hydrological Impacts – analyzed temperature variations and other atmospheric variables expected over the next 50 years, a period that usually represents the use lifespan of a structure built today. The study used the results of the projections included in the EURO-CORDEX ensemble.

The first study, considered the “worst-case” scenario (RCP8.5) – or rather the “high emissions scenario”, predicts a growth in greenhouse gas emissions at current rates for the future as a reference scenario to investigate the case study of Italy, noting for the entire country a relevant temperature increase by 2070.

“Taking as a reference the maximum and minimum temperature levels that are expected to occur at least once in 50 years, we found a significant increase in both the maximum values of the maximum temperature – which in some areas of Italy can reach +6°C – and the maximum values of the minimum temperature – with variations up to +8°C in the mountain ranges,” explains Guido Rianna, CMCC researcher and one of the authors of the study. “The increase in minimum temperature may not be that relevant for buildings, as it implies that constructions will be exposed to less rigid temperatures than today, and therefore less stress. Instead, the increase in the maximum expected temperature could lead to the need for a revision of building standards to ensure the safety of constructions: linear structures such as bridges and viaducts, for example, are subject to thermal expansion.”

The second publication is about a study – conducted on a European scale – on the expected variation in air temperatures and relative humidity in 2070 due to climate change, aimed at understanding to what extent these atmospheric variables may affect the corrosion of buildings in the future. Indeed, increasing temperature and relative humidity can accelerate the corrosion process of steel structures or bars embedded in reinforced concrete, undermining their resistance and therefore threatening the safety of buildings.

“Climate simulations tell us that temperatures in the next 50 years are increasing significantly throughout Europe, albeit with regional differences,” continues Rianna. “The extent of this increase is between 3 and 5°C on average and depends on the climate change mitigation measures that will be implemented.” Here too, the authors explain, an amendment of the Eurocodes may be necessary, in order to take into account the acceleration of the corrosion process in buildings induced by climate change and provide for measures to limit it. Future changes in relative humidity, the study explains, are not significant. Indicating that the real engine of corrosion processes of structures on a European scale will be represented by increases in temperature, rather than humidity.

“These publications are the result of a series of studies aimed at supporting the definition and revision of the European standards for structural design most suited to the world of the future,” says Paola Mercogliano, director of the REMHI division of the CMCC Foundation. “After having analyzed, in the past, the impact of snowpack and in these recent studies, thermal impact, the next step will be to study the impact of wind. Our ultimate goal is to support policy-makers and builders with sound services and information for the update of current structural design standards, considering the various atmospheric phenomena and the different types of constructions, in order to allow for the implementation of effective policies and adaptation actions.”

###More information

Athanasopoulou, A., Sousa, M.L., Dimova, S., Rianna, G., Mercogliano, P., Villani, V., Croce P., Landi, F., Formichi, P., Markova, J., Thermal design of structures and the changing climate, EUR 30302 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-20776-4, doi:10.2760/128894, JRC121351.

M.L. Sousa, S. Dimova, A. Athanasopoulou, G. Rianna, P. Mercogliano, V.Villani, M. Nogal, H. Gervasio, L. Neves, E. Bastidas-Arteaga, G. Tsionis. Expected implications of climate change on the corrosion of structures, EUR 30303 EN, Publications Office of the European Union, Luxembourg, 2020, ISBN 978-92-76-20782-5, doi:10.2760/05229, JRC121312.

From EurekAlert!

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October 14, 2020 10:49 pm

The climate catastrophe narrative is self-perpetuating. It spreads through society in ever-widening circles. People away from the center eventually get influenced by it and in turn spread the contagion to people even further out.

Gregory Woods
Reply to  Ralph Dave Westfall
October 15, 2020 3:03 am

That is due to the effects of increasing Green Porn..

Martin A
October 14, 2020 10:51 pm


Lance Flake
Reply to  Martin A
October 15, 2020 7:36 am


October 14, 2020 11:10 pm

I got annoyed at “ more frequent and intense extreme weather events.” since historical records do NOT corroborate this statement. National building codes are updated regularly for construction improvements and energy efficiency. Suggesting a degree of temperature increase in the last century as the need for updates is doing disservice to the people who update codes for valid technical, economic, and safety reasons, which includes more resiliency to extreme weather of the historically provable kind.

October 14, 2020 11:10 pm

“The first study, considered the “worst-case” scenario (RCP8.5) – or rather the “high emissions scenario””

or the rather highly unlikely scenario.

Patrick MJD
October 14, 2020 11:23 pm

Models, coupled modeling and modeling groups.

Sounds like a lot of horseradish to me.

Larry Wirth
October 14, 2020 11:32 pm

Thermal expansion wasn’t taken into account during design of bridges? I thought that was what engineers do: obviously this is pure b.s.

Splitdog Homee
Reply to  Larry Wirth
October 15, 2020 9:18 am

The heat was worse than they thought!

October 14, 2020 11:41 pm

The European Union has a Commission here, there a Commission & everywhere a Commission. Must be generating the equivalent of an astonishing amount of CO2.

October 15, 2020 12:19 am

This is already impacting the UK, with its many pieces of Victorian era railway and canal infrastructure…

These have stood for 150 years or so without issues and are now failing due to climate change related extreme weather events. Landslides, near failing dams, coastal embankments washed away etc

Craig from Oz
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 12:37 am

“…150 years or so without issues and are now failing due to climate change.”

Do you think before you randomly quote the Guardian.

Climate Change(tm) is the variation from the PRE INDUSTRIAL ERA. Ergo they were built after Climate Change(tm) ergo they have suffered no delta in conditions.

Your own logic rules out your own argument. Either your argument needs to be retracted because your logic is sound, OR your argument is sound but your logic is flawed. Either way you haven’t done well.

Honestly Griff, this is why Engineering is a respected and well paid profession and the Guardian is not.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  Craig from Oz
October 15, 2020 1:54 am

It is also funny that many Victorian era canals are being restored.

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 12:44 am


The headline should read “Maintenance failures and cost cutting on UK railways and UK dam infrastructure blamed on the boogie man climate change”

So rail bosses can save their necks after a serious landslip – happens all the time, have a read of historical railway accident records – results in a fatal accident.

Laugh a minute from Griff. Every normal aspect of everyday life is cloaked in the patina of climate change. Its as though landslips never happened in the past and Victorian dams don’t get old and decrepit after 150 years and poor maintenance. Who’d’ve thunk it?

Craig from Oz
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 12:45 am

Also Griff, while we are pointing out your flaws, I did actually (despite myself) click on the Guardian link and, once I had gotten past the pleading for money, discovered that the article you are using to support the claim that Victorian era railway and canal infrastructure is failing after 150 year does NOT mention the Victorian era.

Did you even read your own link?

Also, the article goes on to admit that consumers of the UK rail services would prefer reliable diesel over risk prone electric (paraphrasing), and actually giving the strong impression that going Green for rail would be a ‘bad idea’.

Did you even read your own link?

Reply to  Craig from Oz
October 15, 2020 2:03 pm

Brave man, reading a Gruniad link…. how’s your stomach feeling?… did you get a “gag” response? 😉

But the number of times griff’s links say basically opposite he tries to convey, must be close to 97%

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 1:15 am

You mean that OLD infrastructure gets OLD, especially when it not properly maintained.

Its lasted 150+ years

Wind turbine are lucky to make 20-25 years

Get a grasp on REALITY, griff

Stop the trend in rainfall ?

comment image

griff caught in YET ANOTHER dishonest LIE.

There is no evidence that humans cause any extreme WEATHER events.

You have yet to produce any evident of any human cause at all.

You remain EMPTY as always.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 1:33 am

If you think there is anything new in the list of alleged climate change damages that you breathlessly cite please do some more investigation. A good starting point would be what happened to Brunel’s scenic coastal railway line in south Devon shortly after it was opened and long before otherwise educated people began to get hysterical about weather. It is also a useful example of how selective and/or woefully ignorant the BBC and other bits of the media are today.

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 1:40 am

Usual rubbish from Griff quoting the extremist Guardian rag.

Nothing could be further from the truth and the only danger in the UK is people lazily blaming climate change to evade responsibility for incompetence. 150 year old stuff is going to fail, everything decays.

To the events to which Griff alludes: Despite all the climate change promotion on their site the British Geological Survey graphs actually show an unequivocally decreasing trend in landslides in the last decade, the final dam report cited bad design/inadequate maintenance, the coastal rail line was built in a precarious position and has always suffered issues and been vulnerable to storm damage.

Even the opening graphic above shows the UK is unlikely to suffer any significant warming even if CO2 emissions do not start to decline until 2045.

The BBC and Met Office are always promoting the idea that climate change is here and affecting us but it is a lie. There is nothing unusual about UK weather, it has always been highly volatile because of the position of the British Isles – on the western edge of the Atlantic, near the European continent, in reach of heat directly from N.Africa, cold directly from the Arctic. It is a violent weather battleground, and any extreme has always been possible and nothing is average.

People like Griff with ideological and not scientifically data driven beliefs, will always exploit our weather and declare the normal abnormal and extreme.

Patrick MJD
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 1:44 am

“griff October 15, 2020 at 12:19 am

These have stood for 150 years or so without issues and are now failing due to climate change…”

Lack of maintenance.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Patrick MJD
October 15, 2020 8:01 am

I believe the auto industry calls them consumables or renewables, lol. Brakes, hoses, filters, etc. Warranties don’t cover them.

Gerry, England
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 5:05 am

Hmm…let me see, do I admit that my company has failed to maintain the infrastructure or do I blame climate change.

There has been a strong suggestion that failure to maintain a drain was a factor in the fatal Scottish landslide. And we also know – because we don’t read the Guardian – that the failing dam was due to lack of maintenance.

It is true that there have been more landslides recently but then as we know that the claims of extreme rainfall are false there must be another reason. Have there been changes on railway embankments? Absolutely! Look back at old photographs and there are no trees. Trees and steam trains don’t mix so vegetation was cut back. What was then cutback was spending on this so we got the dreaded ‘leaves on the line’. Could there be a connection between tree growth and increase in landslides? Water retention possibly?

Peter W
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 5:46 am

I am finding this whole thing to be most amusing! The basic contention is that climate change can cause problems, and increased weather “events” due to the change can cause problems. The reality is that we are, indeed, heading for a time of increased weather events which will, indeed, cause problems, but humans will NOT be the cause.

We have had an exceptionally long warm period from the Milankovitch cycle, and it has reached it’s end. The Little Ice Age was the coldest earth has been in some 8,000 years or so, and in spite of the current relatively minor warmth from the solar cycles, we are about to enter the next BIG ice age! Glaciers will again advance and threaten houses, as they did during the Little Ice Age, and this time they will not stop. Any decent weatherman will tell you that it is the cold periods which are stormier, and will be able to tell you why this is so.

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 6:02 am

So the basic takeout from Griff’s post is if you don’t do maintenance on man made structures they start failing at about 150 years. The pyramids did considerably better than that so the British tradesmen and engineers need to up there game.

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 7:10 am

The griff collective finds it unbelievable that infrastructure that is 150 years old, needs updating.
Especially since his socialist government stopped spending money on infrastructure so they can waste money on wind turbines.

George Daddis
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 7:18 am

Landslides, failures of coastal embankments etc. occurred soon after the first rails were laid.

This is like Gore’s complaints of Miami Beach’s flooded streets – which were laid out below king tide when the city was founded in the 1920s (and wiped out by a hurricane a few short years later).

Krishna Gans
Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 8:03 am

Road damages in Germany
Be sure, these roads are aged less than 150 years, Most damage reason is frost, also heat and water.
And there is no money for repair, as most was going longtime to built new infrastucture in the “new “Länder”” .

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 8:05 am

Griff, the canal banks are failing due to lack of maintenance.

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 9:49 am


One of the major railway collapses was nearby dawlish which received international attention. I wrote of it here

Infrastructure needs to be maintained and renovated but little of it receives attention.

As for dawlish, the railway was also breached in one of its first years of operation in 1850 and has been regularly since, as it was built in the wrong place as the landowners did not want a nasty train line outside their houses.


Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  Tonyb
October 15, 2020 4:53 pm

“Infrastructure needs to be maintained and renovated but little of it receives attention.”

My motto is: “If it isn’t crumbling, it isn’t infrastructure!”

Reply to  griff
October 15, 2020 11:29 am

Calling BS on the Guardian rubbish

Rail temperatures in the UK are normally taken to very between -13C and +53C


John V. Wright
October 15, 2020 12:31 am

Every day, everywhere, more climate blah-blah-blah. Blah-blah-blah in all media, at all times. No one can escape the blah-blah-blah. And who is paying for this utterly useless blah-blah-blah? Well that would be you and me folks.

Climate believer
October 15, 2020 12:44 am

What a wonderful world that last 150 years was…..nothing bad ever happened……

Coeur de Lion
October 15, 2020 1:33 am

I thought that nobody believes the IPCC models any more? They are the only source of our horrid fear of a griffish climatological future.

October 15, 2020 1:38 am

Extreme weather, floods, storms all used to be due to nature, or attributed to “acts of God”.

Now man has supplanted nature and God because its all due to man-made climate change.

The most extraordinary hubris and illusion of control.

Delusions of grandeur, anyone?

stephen richards
October 15, 2020 1:45 am

It’s building regulations that undermine the safety of buildings in europe. Certainly in france we have had more “catastrophe naturel ” in the past 20 years than in the previous 20 but if you are building on clay and not putting the house on massive reinforced foundations the house will move, crack and break it’s foundation.

It’s the stupid insurance rules here that also impact the data.

Climate believer
Reply to  stephen richards
October 15, 2020 7:40 am

Stephen, not sure what you’re counting as “catastrophe naturelle”, but storms in France are down on previous years, by number and force.

Eleanor, in 2018, was an average bad winter storm.

Last big storm (by surface impacted) was Xynthia back in February 2010.

The other memorable big ones were Lothar and Martin back in December 1999.

Repeated storms hit France in 1982, 83, 84, 86, with la grande finale we simply called “L’ouragan”, the Hurricane, in 87. Gusts of 200 km/h (124 mph) were recorded across La Hague.

1990 was also very bad, Daria, Herta and Viviane all above average storms.

We are probably due a big one.

Gerry, England
October 15, 2020 5:07 am

RCP8.5 is complete fantasy and RCP4.5 is close behind. So another waste of money to create alarmist nonsense.

October 15, 2020 7:12 am

I have observed that in the past 10 or 15 years my body has begun to fail me. Bad ankle, hip and now knee. Everything was fine before. This did not happen in the 60’s or 80’s or even 90’s when CO2 was much lower. It must be climate change causing this degradation. I am going to sell my SUV and buy a Tesla. Things will surely get better then.

Peter W
Reply to  DHR
October 15, 2020 9:33 am

Thanks for that idea. I have been noticing the same problems!

Reply to  Peter W
October 15, 2020 11:15 am

Me too – sounds like a class action coming on

Reply to  DHR
October 15, 2020 2:17 pm

Wearing-out and sagging architecture can be quite expensive to maintain. !

October 15, 2020 8:12 am

Thank goodness I am not paying for the JRC any more.

In fact the mind boggles that people are actually paid by taxpayers to come up with this stuff. The Brothers Grimm and Hans Andersen would be in awe.

Splitdog Homee
October 15, 2020 9:16 am

1st law of climate science: It is worse than we thought.

October 15, 2020 10:53 am

Reminds me of the first show of Stargate SG-1 the question have you ever come out of a simulated bombing run pulling 10 Gs? The answer should have been no Gs are pulled in a simulator.

Article: “Climate simulations tell us that temperatures in the next 50 years are increasing significantly throughout Europe, albeit with regional differences,” continues Rianna.

October 15, 2020 2:16 pm

Its not just Europe. Our local guv is now starting a study of whether the storm drains are sufficient for the increased rainfall that is supposed to happen on the the west coast of Canada. Lets face it, all the ‘environmental scientists’ have to be supported somehow. Our community gets water from a lake formed by a dam now 60 years old. The licence to take water was out of date more than 30 years ago, so now we have to pay for an environmental assessment. This will take a year and cost 50-80k. Its a real good living for some.

Reply to  Fran
October 16, 2020 1:24 am

Well I’d worry about that: older UK dams are now near failing point due to increased rainfall

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  griff
October 16, 2020 8:26 am

Since when? Over the last 20 years UK rainfall has been constant.

If you want to convince people with a lie, at least make it a good one.

October 15, 2020 7:24 pm

Any building design which withstood the heatwave of 1540 will be just fine. Major European heatwaves like in 1540, 1976, 2003, and 2018, are discretely solar driven, they are a cause and not a product of climate change. Institutions pushing the idea that a few more whiffs of CO2 will make them more frequent are producing psy-ops not science.

Reply to  Ulric Lyons
October 16, 2020 1:26 am

you missed 2020 from that list.

I note that UK’s 10 warmest years all occurred since 2002.

Reply to  griff
October 16, 2020 4:45 am

2020 did not have that scale of major summer heatwave. 1976 was the hottest UK summer and it’s not in the top twenty warmest UK years.

Reply to  griff
October 16, 2020 4:50 am

SO WHAT.. ? !!

Its warmed since the little ice age. GREAT NEWS.. !

Its warmed a bit since the COOLING scare of the 1970s…

Do you have a problem with that ?

Do you have ANY evidence at all of any human causation except by UHI effects and data adjustment ?

Reply to  griff
October 16, 2020 9:27 am

Anyway I had predicted a year earlier when the 2020 UK summer heat would be, in August and early September, the same time that California had it, because of faster solar wind driving positive NAO/AO conditions. So that was also discretely driven. Warmer years don’t spontaneously generate heatwaves but not in June and July.

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