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Title: Local floods induce large-scale abrupt failures of road networks

The adverse effect of climate change continues to expand, and the risks of flooding are increasing. Despite advances in network science and risk analysis, we lack a systematic mathematical framework for road network percolation under the disturbance of flooding. The difficulty is rooted in the unique three-dimensional nature of a flood, where altitude plays a critical role as the third dimension, and the current network-based framework is unsuitable for it. Here we develop a failure model to study the effect of floods on road networks; the result covers 90.6% of road closures and 94.1% of flooded streets resulting from Hurricane Harvey. We study the effects of floods on road networks in China and the United States, showing a discontinuous phase transition, indicating that a small local disturbance may lead to a large-scale systematic malfunction of the entire road network at a critical point. Our integrated approach opens avenues for understanding the resilience of critical infrastructure networks against floods.

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Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Nature Communications
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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