Global average temperatures are projected to increase significantly between 2030 and 2052, and engineers will need to consider future climate conditions to ensure safe and reliable infrastructure. One solution to determine future climate conditions is to use climate simulation models for engineering analyses. Some progress has been made to incorporate these climate model projections into engineering procedures, including using them in codes and design manuals. However, there are different projection results, as well as differing processing techniques, that make considering and incorporating future climate projections challenging.

Researchers Yuchuan Lai, Tania Lopez-Cantu, David A. Dzombak, and Constantine Samaras thought that providing engineers with an overview of how global climate models have been applied would be helpful. Their paper, “Framing the Use of Climate Model Projections in Infrastructure Engineering: Practices, Uncertainties, and Recommendations” in the Journal of Infrastructure Systems, offers a benchmark for reviewing and comparing past or future estimates of climate change conditions. Learn more about how engineers can factor climate change into design considerations at The abstract is below.   


An overview of applying global climate model (GCM) projections of temperature and precipitation in infrastructure engineering is provided, with summarized general procedures, a review of commonly used projection products and processing techniques for different engineering applications, and sensitivity and uncertainty analyses with regard to different decisions via two case studies. Applying climate model projections in engineering requires multiple stages of decisions, which can be summarized as three steps: determining the requirements for climate variables, obtaining climate projections, and postprocessing of obtained climate projections. From the review of engineering applications in which climate projections were used, some important differences were identified during these three steps of decisions. The case studies suggested that the selections of projection products and processing techniques are subject to different kinds of uncertainty and challenges and that the sequence of decisions can lead to great variations in the resulting regional climate change projections. Based on the two case studies and the review of applications and uncertainties reported in the literature, several general observations and recommendations for applying GCM projections in engineering are offered.

Read the paper in full in the ASCE Library at