Climate Adaptation Engineering for Extreme Events Cluster

Australia is a continent subject to extreme weather events such as cyclones, storms, floods and heatwaves. The social and economic impact of these natural disasters totals billions of dollars per year.

A changing climate will result in more severe damage to housing, commercial and industrial buildings, roads, bridges, and transport and other infrastructure.

Current design and construction practices for critical infrastructure assume a constant climate and will be inadequate for likely future climate conditions.

Innovative engineering solutions

Led by the University of Newcastle, the cluster brought together diverse research capabilities from CSIRO, University of New South Wales, Swinburne University of Technology, The University of Western Australia, and James Cook University. The cluster aimed to assess the risks, benefits, and costs of climate adaptation strategies, to find solutions that are practical and cost-effective.

Cluster partners used innovative design and construction processes to identify and develop climate adaptation strategies.

These built on the latest engineering technology to ensure durable, environmentally friendly and less vulnerable infrastructure.

Researchers used methods that consider the uncertainty and variability of climate and infrastructure vulnerability on damage risks.

Engineering systems and reliability analyses were used to model the performance of infrastructure.

Life-cycle cost assessments compared adaptation costs and benefits for short and long-term time frames.

This will support more efficient and resilient infrastructure to help ‘future proof’ new and existing infrastructure to a changing climate.

Research aims

Key aims of the research partners were to:

  • develop new design criteria and innovative use of materials that will reduce vulnerability of new infrastructure to existing and future climate scenarios
  • ensure any new developments reduce climate risk and energy use but also maximise durability and sustainability over the life-cycle of the infrastructure
  • develop economic models of damage and other losses, and decision-making criteria that consider the challenges of climate adaptation in terms of costs and benefits
  • ensure economic models consider a broad suite of factors such as interests of stakeholders, time-preferences of stakeholders, and how investment decisions in climate adaptation may affect other areas of the economy.


Areas of research included:

  • residential and industrial buildings response to extreme wind events
  • buckling of railway tracks in heat events
  • consideration of building materials in response to heat, wind and flood
  • vulnerability of transport infrastructure to flooding
  • risk and economic assessment of adaptation strategies.


Stewart, MG (2013). Risk and Economic Analysis of Residential Housing Climate Adaptation Strategies for Wind Hazards in South‐East Australia, CAEx Report 1/2013, Climate Adaptation Engineering for Extreme Events Cluster, CSIRO Climate Adaptation Flagship, Canberra, June 2013.

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