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Crumbling Away: How Climate Change Could Accelerate Corrosion


Critical pieces of infrastructure may fail sooner in the coming decades, warns study Rust visible on the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, which connects Washington, DC to Virginia across the … [+] Getty Images ivil infrastructure is increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The floods of 2021 saw cities including London, Zhengzhou, and New York temporarily under water . The extreme temperatures of northern hemisphere summer 2022 have led to wildfires , power cuts , buckled rail lines , melting roads , and broken water mains . While here in the southern hemisphere, weeks of stormy winter weather have caused significant damage to roads , beaches , and homes .

But our changing climate is also having a slower, less visible impact on infrastructure. It seems that increases in temperature and humidity are beginning to accelerate corrosion – the process by which strong, shiny metals turn into weak, crumbly metal oxides. Over time, water and oxygen work together to rip electrons away from the atoms of an exposed metal surface, forming other more chemically-stable compounds. The presence of a familiar orange-red color on a surface tells you that there is a ferrous, or iron-containing, metal (like steel) nearby, and that […]

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