Natural Hazards

, Volume 80, Issue 2, pp 1083–1118 | Cite as

The spatial exposure of the Chinese infrastructure system to flooding and drought hazards

  • Xi HuEmail author
  • Jim W. Hall
  • Peijun Shi
  • Wee Ho Lim
Original Paper


Recent rapid urbanisation means that China has invested in an enormous amount of infrastructure, much of which is vulnerable to natural hazards. This paper investigates from a spatial perspective how the Chinese infrastructure system is exposed to flooding and drought hazards. Infrastructure exposure across three different sectors—energy, transport, and waste—is considered. With a database of 10,561 nodes and 2863 edges that make up the three infrastructure networks, we develop a methodology assigning the number of users to individual infrastructure assets and conduct hotspot analysis by applying the Kernel density estimator. We find that infrastructure assets in Anhui, Beijing, Guangdong, Hebei, Henan, Jiangsu, Liaoning, Shandong, Shanghai, Tianjin, Zhejiang—and their 66 cities—are exceptionally exposed to flooding, which affects sub-sectors including rail, aviation, shipping, electricity, and wastewater. The average number of infrastructure users who could be disrupted by the impacts of flooding on these sectors stands at 103 million. The most exposed sub-sectors are electricity and wastewater (20 and 14 % of the total, respectively). For drought hazard, we restrict our work to the electricity sub-sector, which is potentially exposed to water shortages at hydroelectric power plants and cooling water shortage at thermoelectric power plants, where the number of highly exposed users is 6 million. Spatially, we demonstrate that the southern border of Inner Mongolia, Shandong, Shanxi, Hebei, north Henan, Beijing, Tianjin, south-west of Jiangsu—and their 99 cities—are especially exposed. While further work is required to understand infrastructure’s sensitivity to hazard loading, the results already provide evidence to inform strategic infrastructure planning decisions.


Exposure Flooding Drought Infrastructure (energy, electricity, waste, transport, rail, aviation, shipping) China 



This work was supported by the Asian Studies Centre, University of Oxford. JWH and WHL acknowledge the Oxford Martin School for the financial support of this study through the grant OMPORS. We thank Simon Abele at the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), University of Oxford, for his contribution in assembling the OpenStreetMap network data set. We are also grateful to Dr. Raghav Pant for coding the input from the flood results, Scott Thacker at the ECI, and Valerie Bevan for their comments during the development of the paper.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical standard

This statement confirms that the work presented in this paper complies with all the requirements in sections “Ethical Responsibilities of Authors”, “Ethical Standards”, and “Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest” of the Journal of Natural Hazards.


  1. Baiardi F, Corò F (2013) GVScan: scanning networks for global vulnerabilities. In: 2013 Eighth international conference on availability, reliability and security (ARES). Regensburg. Accessed 8 Feb 2014
  2. Bompard E, Pons E, Wu D (2013) Analysis of the structural vulnerability of the interconnected power grid of continental Europe with the Integrated Power System and Unified Power System based on extended topological approach Ettore. Int Trans Electr Energy Syst 23(5):620–637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. China Academy of Transportation Sciences (2005) Second National Inland Waterways Census (第二次全国内河航道普查) Ministry of Transport, ed., China Communications PressGoogle Scholar
  4. China Electric Power Yearbook Editorial Committee (2011) Total Electricity Consumption in China in 2011 (2011年全社会用电量), China Statistics PressGoogle Scholar
  5. Chinese Academy of Sciences (2015) China Natural Disaster Database (中国自然灾害数据库). Accessed 10 Aug 2015
  6. Chinese Census Office of the State Council (2012) Tabulation on the 2010 population census of the People’s Republic of China by county (中国2010人口普查分县资料), China Statistics PressGoogle Scholar
  7. Civil Aviation Administration of China, 2008. 2020 National Plan for Civil Airports Layout (全国民用机场布局规划), pp 1–10. Accessed 4 Apr 2014
  8. Civil Aviation Administration of China, 2013. Chinese airport traffic ranking 2012 (2012民航机场业务量排名). Bulletin of The Chinese Aviation Industry (2012全国机场生产统计公报), pp 7–9. Accessed 1 May 2013
  9. Dankers R, Feyen L (2008) Climate change impact on flood hazard in Europe: an assessment based on high-resolution climate simulations. J Geophys Res Atmos 113(19):1–17Google Scholar
  10. Davis CB et al (2014) Enipedia. Accessed 28 Apr 2014
  11. De Sherbinin A, Schiller A, Pulsipher A (2007) The vulnerability of global cities to climate hazards. Environ Urban 19(1):39–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dinh T, Xuan Y (2012) On new approaches of assessing network vulnerability: hardness and approximation. IEEE/ACM Netw 20(2):609–619. Accessed 10 Feb 2014
  13. Dobbs R et al (2013) Infrastructure productivity: how to save $1 trillion a year,
  14. Dueñas-Osorio L, Vemuru SM (2009) Cascading failures in complex infrastructure systems. Struct Saf 31(2):157–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dutta D, Herath S, Musiake K (2003) A mathematical model for flood loss estimation. J Hydrol 277(1–2):24–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Editorial Board of China Ports Yearbook (2012) Port Summary. In: China Ports Yearbook. China Ports Magazine.
  17. Erath A et al (2009) Vulnerability assessment of the swiss road network. Transp Res Rec J Transp Res Board 2137:118–126. Accessed 11 Feb 2014 (2009 Safety 2009: Security; Emergencies; Management; and School Transportation)
  18. Fang W (2011) Integrated risk governance: database, risk maps and network platform. Science China Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  19. Gumbel EJ (1941) The return period of flood flows. Ann Math Stat 12(2):163–190CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Hall JW, Sayers PB, Dawson RJ (2005) National-scale assessment of current and future flood risk in England and Wales. Nat Hazards 36(1–2):147–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hall JW et al (2014) Assessing the long-term performance of cross-sectoral strategies for national infrastructure. J Infrastruct Syst 20:04014014CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Hines P, Cotilla-Sanchez E, Blumsack S (2010) Do topological models provide good information about electricity infrastructure vulnerability? Chaos (Woodbury, N.Y.) 20(3):033122. Accessed 2 Feb 2014Google Scholar
  23. Hirabayashi Y et al (2013) Global flood risk under climate change. Nat Publ Group 3(9):816–821. doi: 10.1038/nclimate1911 Google Scholar
  24. Holme P et al (2002) Attack vulnerability of complex networks. Phys Rev 65(5):056109Google Scholar
  25. HSBC (2011) Scoring climate change risk, Hong Kong.,d.d2 kGoogle Scholar
  26. HSBC (2012) No water, no power: is there enough water to fuel China’s power expansion? Hong Kong.
  27. Hu X, Hall JW, Thacker S (2014) Too big to fail? The spatial vulnerability of the Chinese infrastructure system to flooding risks. Vulnerability, uncertainty and risk, pp 704–714Google Scholar
  28. IPCC (2012) Determinants of risk: exposure and vulnerability. In: Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation, pp 65–108Google Scholar
  29. Johansson J, Hassel H (2010) An approach for modelling interdependent infrastructures in the context of vulnerability analysis. Reliab Eng Syst Saf 95(12):1335–1344CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Jongman B et al (2014) Increasing stress on disaster-risk finance due to large floods. Nat Clim Change 4(4):1–5CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kim H et al (2009) Role of rivers in the seasonal variations of terrestrial water storage over global basins. Geophys Res Lett 36(17):2–6CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. KPMG (2008) Transport in China, Hong Kong. Scholar
  33. KPMG (2009) Infrastructure in China: Foundation for growth, Hong Kong. Scholar
  34. LaRocca S et al (2012) Comparing topological performance measures and physical flow models for vulnerability analysis of power systems. Psam11 & Esrel2012 35(4):608–623. Scholar
  35. Lewis JI (2009) Climate change and security: examining China’s challenges in a warming world. Int Aff 85(6):1195–1213. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2009.00857.x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Li K et al (2012) Flood loss analysis and quantitative risk assessment in China. Nat Hazards 63(2):737–760. doi: 10.1007/s11069-012-0180-y CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lim WH, Yamazaki D, Koirala S, Hirabayashi Y, Kanae S, Dadson SJ, Hall JW. Long-term changes in global river flood frequency, socioeconomic benefits of flood defences and residual risk based on CMIP5 climate models (in preparation)Google Scholar
  38. Mao Z et al (2009) Vulnerability analysis of urban infrastructures. In: 2009 International conference on industrial and information systems, pp 395–398. Accessed 26 Jan 2014Google Scholar
  39. Marrone S, Nardone R, Tedesco A (2013) Vulnerability modeling and analysis for critical infrastructure protection applications. Int J Crit Infrastruct Prot 6(3–4):217–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Matisziw TC, Murray AT, Grubesic TH (2009) Exploring the vulnerability of network infrastructure to disruption. Ann Reg Sci 43(2):307–321. doi: 10.1007/s00168-008-0235-x CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Ministry of Rail (1980) Classification of Chinese Railway Stations 《铁路车站等级核定办法》Google Scholar
  42. Ministry of Rail (2010) Chinese railway passenger train timetable (全国铁路旅客列车时刻表). China Railway Publishing HouseGoogle Scholar
  43. Ministry of Rail (2012) Ministry of rail: bulletin of the 2012 Chinese Railway (中华人民共和国铁道部2012年铁道统计公报), pp 1–5. Scholar
  44. Ministry of the Environment (2013) Statistics on national urban sewage treatment facilities in China (全国投运城镇污水处理设施清单), pp 1–204. Scholar
  45. Ministry of Water Resources (2011) Bulletin of Flood and Drought Disasters in China (中国水旱灾害公报), Scholar
  46. Ministry of Water Resources (2012) Bulletin of flood and drought disasters in China (中国水旱灾害公报). Scholar
  47. Mishra AK, Singh VP (2010) A review of drought concepts. J Hydrol 391(1–2):202–216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. NOAA (2015) F18 2012 Nighttime Lights Composite. Version 4 DMSP-OLS Nighttime Lights Time Series. Accessed 20 Jul 2015
  49. OpenStreetMap Contributors (2014) OpenStreetMap. Accessed 5 May 2014
  50. Oswald M, Treat C (2013) Assessing public transportation vulnerability to sea level rise: a case study application. J Public Transp (Fta 2011) 59–77. Accessed 8 Feb 2014
  51. Ouyang M et al (2009) A methodological approach to analyze vulnerability of interdependent infrastructures. Simul Model Pract Theory 17(5):817–828. doi: 10.1016/j.simpat.2009.02.001 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ouyang M et al (2014) Comparisons of complex network based models and real train flow model to analyze Chinese railway vulnerability. Reliab Eng Syst Saf 123:38–46CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pappenberger F et al (2012) Deriving global flood hazard maps of fluvial floods through a physical model cascade. Hydrol Earth Syst Sci16(11):4143–4156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Regmi MB, Hanaoka S (2011) A survey on impacts of climate change on road transport infrastructure and adaptation strategies in Asia. Environ Econ Policy Stud 13(1):21–41CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Shi P (ed) (2011) Atlas of natural disaster risk in China (中国自然灾害风险地图集). Science China Press, BeijingGoogle Scholar
  56. Shuang Q, Zhang M, Yuan Y (2014) Node vulnerability of water distribution networks under cascading failures. Reliab Eng Syst Saf 124:132–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stanway D (2011) China power crunch to worsen as drought slashes hydro. Reuters. Accessed 26 Aug 2015
  58. State Grid Energy Research Institute (2014) Large-scale Ultra High Voltage Transmission is in rapid development in China (特高压跨区输电应更大规模地快速发展). China National Grid Highlight Report. Accessed 15 Jul 2015
  59. Takata K, Emori S, Watanabe T (2003) Development of the minimal advanced treatments of surface interaction and runoff. Global Planet Change 38(1–2):209–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Tang HS et al (2013) Vulnerability of population and transportation infrastructure at the east bank of Delaware Bay due to coastal flooding in sea-level rise conditions. Nat Hazards 69(1):141–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. The Harvard WorldMap Project, 2014. Harvard ChinaMap. Accessed 28 Apr 2015
  62. Wang S, Hong L, Chen X (2012) Vulnerability analysis of interdependent infrastructure systems: a methodological framework. Phys A Stat Mech Appl 391(11):3323–3335CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wang S et al (2013) Vulnerability analysis of interdependent infrastructure systems under edge attack strategies. Saf Sci 51(1):328–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Ward PJ et al (2013) Assessing flood risk at the global scale: model setup, results, and sensitivity. Environ Res Lett 8(4):044019. Accessed 22 May 2014
  65. Ward PJ, Jongman B, Salamon P, Simpson A, Bates P, De Groeve T, Muis S, de Perez EC, Rudari R, Trigg MA, Winsemius HC (2015) Usefulness and limitations of global flood risk models. Nat Clim Change 5(8):712–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wilhelmi OV, Wilhite DA (2002) Assessing vulnerability to agricultural drought: a nebraska case study. Drought Mitigation Center Faculty PublicationsGoogle Scholar
  67. World Bank (2004) Understanding the economic and financial impacts of natural disasters, Washington, DC.
  68. World Bank (2005) Waste management in China: issues and recommendations, May 2005Google Scholar
  69. World Bank (2007) An overview of China’s transport sector—2007Google Scholar
  70. Wu S, Pan T, He S (2012) Climate change risk research: a case study on flood disaster risk in China. Adv Clim Change Res 3(2):92–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Xie J et al (2013) Board-scale reliability of the flood defence infrastructure within the Taihu Basin, China. J Flood Risk Manag 6(1):42–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Yamazaki D et al (2011) A physically based description of floodplain inundation dynamics in a global river routing model. Water Resour Res 47(4):1–21CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Yamazaki D et al (2014) Water resources research. Water Resour Res 50:3467–3480CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Yin N (2010) Chinese high-speed rail can breakeven (中国高铁实现盈亏平衡没有悬念). Xinhua News. Accessed 11 Jul 2015
  75. Zarafshani K et al (2012) Drought vulnerability assessment: the case of wheat farmers in Western Iran. Global Planet Change 98–99:122–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Change Institute, Oxford Centre for the Environment, School of Geography and the EnvironmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Oxford Martin SchoolUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Earth Surface Processes and Resource EcologyBeijing Normal UniversityBeijingChina

Personalised recommendations