Athanasopoulos-Zekkos Weighs In on Ida, Infrastructure in CNN Feature

Featured Faculty: Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos


In an interview with CNN anchor John Vause, Professor Adda Athanasopoulos discussed the aftermath of Hurricane Ida and the country's need to invest in infrastructure in response to climate change.

Infrastructure involves many interconnected systems and components. According to Athanasopoulos-Zekkos, we therefore experience a domino effect with the failure of one system triggering the failure of others. Investments in infrastructure require significant resources, and we must account for systems' complexity when designing them. Fortunately, engineers have solutions for many of the challenges we face.

Engineers use models to forecast climate events, and they must calibrate them based on the newest available data. For this reason, engineers like Athanasopoulos-Zekkos conduct reconnaissance missions to assess the aftermath of events, then investigate and update models to provide the best projections possible.

Athanasopoulos-Zekkos emphasized that making infrastructure improvements is an ongoing, iterative process where we need to study what happened, what worked well, what needs improvement, and then make upgrades. An example of this is the assessment of failed levees following Hurricane Katrina, which were then upgraded and held during Hurricane Ida.

While we strive to reduce the impact of major climate events on communities, we must recognize that risk from such events is never eliminated. Our goal in improving infrastructure is to help communities be more resilient and bounce back after a catastrophe. It is also vital that investments are made equitably, especially given that poorer communities are often hit hardest by the impacts of climate change.

Published 09/07/2021