to increase (7). Their design did not account
for changes in the statistics of extremes over
time. However, the past hydrologic events,
emerging patterns, and projected climatic
conditions all point to a future with more
extreme events (8). Oroville dam is a portent
of the risks that our aging dams and levees
face from compounding events in a changing climate. The existing infrastructure
needs to be reevaluated with a vision toward
“climate-adapted” infrastructure that the
United States can rely on in the face of new
Farshid Vahedifard,1 Amir
Agha Kouchak,2 Elisa Ragno,2 Shahriar
Shahrokhabadi,1 Iman Mallakpour2
1Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering,
Mississippi State University, Mississippi State,
MS 39762, USA. 2Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering, University of California,
Irvine, CA 92697, USA.
1. R. G. Lin II, R. Ranoa, C. Megerian, “Here’s the nightmare scenario at Oroville dam that officials are fighting to prevent,”
Los Angeles Times, 13 February 2017.
2. N. S. Diffenbaugh, “What California’s dam crisis says about
the changing climate,” The New York Times, 14 February 2017.
3. A. Voiland, “From an atmospheric river to a river of
INSIGHTS | LETTERS
sediment” (NASA Earth Observatory, 2017); http://earthob-
4. S. Karlamangla, “L.A. County supervisors OK debris clearance for Devil’s Gate dam,” Los Angeles Times,
12 November 2014.
5. NOAA Atlas 14 Point Precipitation Frequency Estimates: CA
6. T.Di Liberto,“Floodingconcernsat Orovilledam
as water levels reach capacity” (2017); www.
7. American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), “2017 Report
Card for America’s Infrastructures” (2017);
8. S. I. Seneviratne et al., in “Managing the risks of extreme
events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation:
A special report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
Change,” C. B. Field et al., Eds. (Cambridge Univ. Press, 2012),
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