Climate change can have significant implications for infrastructure, primarily through extreme events, but also through slow-onset climatic changes. The survey of the Climate Response project revealed that more than 70% of Hungarian people are worried about climate change causing damages to their homes, and nearly the same proportion of the population fear that extreme weather will cause long-lasting power outages.
Changes in seasons and extreme temperatures (high and low); humidity (high and low); extreme or prolonged precipitation (for example rain, fog, snow, and ice); prolonged droughts; extreme winds and thunderstorms can all cause severe disruptions in the proper functioning of infrastructure.
Heat waves, urban flash floods, intense precipitation and wind storms are the most typical natural hazards that impose danger to the built-up environment and urban infrastructure. High temperatures can put roads, cables and pipes at risk. Storms mostly affect the external structure of buildings, such as roofs and facades but can also damage street objects (traffic lights, street lights and phone boxes) and plants. Historic buildings are vulnerable to daily and annual temperature fluctuations, quick changes in humidity as well as frost and melt periods.
Heat waves affect public transportation passengers the most, as buses, trains, trams and even subway cars can overheat. Asphalt roads and train tracks can be also damaged and deformed during heat periods. Flash floods can easily wash out road foundations leaving behind destroyed pavement, road and track sections, while increased lightning activity damages rail infrastructure.
The growing number of thunderstorms and wind gusts endanger power lines, transformers and electric structures. The build-up of rime, wet snow and sleet puts a great burden on the power lines during wintertime.