Queensferry Crossing bridge in Scotland

Insight Sustainability: How increasing winds will pose major problems for bridge design

Submitted on Thursday, 11/04/2024

Bridge engineers have long known that increasing wind speeds resulting from climate change pose a growing risk to our bridge stock. There is little understanding, however, of how bridges interact with stronger and more frequent storms. Bridge sensors provide us with a great deal of data, but processing and understanding that data is an underdeveloped research field. Jennifer Keenahan is Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at UCD’s Earth Institute and for some time she has had access to an enormous amount of data from the over 2000 sensors on the Queensferry Crossing in Scotland and the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Bridge in Ireland: 186 billion data points.

Last year the Insight SFI Research Centre for Data Analytics, through its Strategic Research Fund, offered seed funding to scientists with large data sets from any field looking for a data partner. Dr Keenahan applied and has now teamed up with Insight’s Tahar Kechadi,Professor of Computer Science at UCD, to start using this data to build a new picture of the interaction between wind and bridges. The immensity and inconsistency of the data set poses unique challenges forĀ  Dr Kechadi – it is a unique inquiry from a data engineering perspective as well as from a civil engineering perspective.

The project is at the early stages but it is already academically novel and its findings are likely to have a significant impact on bridge building policy worldwide.