“If you’re thinking about, for example, long-term climate variability and change—that should impact the design of hydraulic infrastructure, and the design of dams and reservoirs,” Ganguly adds.
Ganguly, whose work has focused on data-driven analyses of water, weather and climate systems, says it’s a problem with dam operators worldwide.
“The underlying trigger is the fact that the dams and the hydraulic infrastructure—and this is true in many parts of the world—were not ready in the long term, in terms of design considerations, nor in the shorter term, in terms of consequence management.”
“Much of the physical infrastructure in the developing world—but also in the West—is built according to a cost-effective analysis that doesn’t factor in the more extreme weather events brought on by climate change,” explains Daniel Aldrich, a Northeastern professor, director of the university’s Security and Resilience Program and co-director at the Global Resilience Institute.
“Take California, for example,” Ganguly says. “In 2021, it was going through significant droughts — potentially long term, very intense droughts. Then it was hit with these atmospheric rivers, and so it saw this huge flux. Even in a region which is, in the long term, facing water scarcity, suddenly it can get these massive floods. This drought-deluge cycle is something we now have to deal with — both in terms of climate variability, but how it intersects with our infrastructures and human-engineered systems.”