Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

George Tsiatas


Climate change is a problem that has intensified in recent years. With the great increase in global electricity consumption, the peak in carbon-based fuel combustion in conjunction with deforestation is leading to an increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. Carbon dioxide traps heat near the Earth's surface, causing global warming. This leads to more frequent and intense storms, heat waves, and rising sea levels. Coastal communities and infrastructure are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

The scope of the project is to develop an assessment of the impact of climate change such as sea-level rise in combination with tides and storm surges on coastal structures for the town of Barrington, Bristol County, Rhode Island. The specific focus of this research is the analysis of the Barrington Bridge No. 123. Various available tools are utilized to establish projections of future inundation for Rhode Island. The vulnerability of this bridge was investigated by inspecting the potential forces acting on the Barrington bridge associated with storm surges and higher sea levels. These forces include uplift, wave forces, impact by vessels, and scour.

In the event of a 100-year storm, the Barrington bridge will be partly inundated. Contrasting the capacity and the demand of these forces acting on the bridge deck, it would fail with a probability of 65% in a 100-year return period storm only due to the impact of waves. Considering this approach as conservative, the bridge can be assumed to be safe for the 100-year storm event. On the basis of the developed fragility curves for possible failure scenarios at various recurrence intervals, the analysis shows that with only 2 ft of sea level rise or return periods greater than 200 years, the probability of failure increases to 100%. Conservation measures like vertical pins through the solid ends of the box into the pier or abutments are necessary to reduce the risk of uplifting the bridge deck.



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