Climate change damages to Alaska public infrastructure and the economics of proactive adaptation

Climate change in Alaska is causing widespread environmental change that is damaging critical infrastructure. As climate change continues, infrastructure may become more vulnerable to damage, increasing risks to residents and resulting in large economic impacts. We quantified the potential economic damages to Alaska public infrastructure resulting from climate-driven changes in flooding, precipitation, near-surface permafrost thaw, and freeze–thaw cycles using high and low future climate scenarios. Additionally, we estimated coastal erosion losses for villages known to be at risk. Our findings suggest that the largest climate damages will result from flooding of roads followed by substantial near-surface permafrost thaw-related damage to buildings. Proactive adaptation efforts as well as global action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could considerably reduce these damages.

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