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Title: Modest flooding can trigger catastrophic road network collapse due to compound failure

Compound failures occur when urban flooding coincides with traffic congestion, and their impact on network connectivity is poorly understood. Firstly, either three-dimensional road networks or the traffic on the roads has been considered, but not both. Secondly, we lack network science frameworks to consider compound failures in infrastructure networks. Here we present a network-theory-based framework that bridges this gap by considering compound structural, functional, and topological failures. We analyze high-resolution traffic data using network percolation theory to study the response of the transportation network in Harris County, Texas, US to Hurricane Harvey in 2017. We find that 2.2% of flood-induced compound failure may lead to a reduction in the size of the largest cluster where network connectivity exists, the giant component, 17.7%. We conclude that indirect effects, such as changes in traffic patterns, must be accounted for when assessing the impacts of flooding on transportation network connectivity and functioning.

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Communications Earth & Environment
Nature Publishing Group
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National Science Foundation
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