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Lehigh University logo

Melissa Zirps

The Effects of Climate Change on the Capacity of Steel Girders under Corrosion

Department: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Advisor: Dan Frangopol

The effect of climate change on infrastructure is a critical topic that is being closely examined by researchers and engineers alike. Corrosion affects numerous structures across the country. The effects of climate change, particularly rising temperatures, relative humidity, and wind speed, may have a severe impact on corrosion rates, which may exacerbate the already corroded state of civil structures. This research demonstrates how climate change affects corrosion and the overall performance of a civil structure. This research elucidates the impact of climate change on the time-variant performance of civil structures through the assessment of an illustrative steel bridge girder in Brisbane, Australia and its deterioration over time. This analysis considers the uncertainties of climate change, corrosion rates, and material properties to give a probabilistic description of structural performance over a one hundred year service life. At the end of the service life, it is shown that the probability of failure may significantly increase for climate change scenarios, which is essential information for managers to consider when designing or maintaining the structure.

About Melissa Zirps:
Melissa Zirps is a senior at Lehigh University, majoring in Civil Engineering. She has worked with Dr. Dan Frangopol for two semesters, conducting research in life cycle engineering. She was drawn toward this project because of her interest in how the impending threat of climate change will affect infrastructure. Outside of academics Melissa is involved in peer tutoring and Alpha Phi. After graduation, she will pursue her Ph.D.