Separating damage from environmental effects affecting civil structures for near real-time damage detection

William Soo Lon Wah, Yung Tsang Chen, Gethin Wyn Roberts, Ahmed Elamin

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Analyzing changes in vibration properties (e.g. natural frequencies) of structures as a result of damage has been heavily used by researchers for damage detection of civil structures. These changes, however, are not only caused by damage of the structural components, but they are also affected by the varying environmental conditions the structures are faced with, such as the temperature change, which limits the use of most damage detection methods presented in the literature that did not account for these effects. In this article, a damage detection method capable of distinguishing between the effects of damage and of the changing environmental conditions affecting damage sensitivity features is proposed. This method eliminates the need to form the baseline of the undamaged structure using damage sensitivity features obtained from a wide range of environmental conditions, as conventionally has been done, and utilizes features from two extreme and opposite environmental conditions as baselines. To allow near real-time monitoring, subsequent measurements are added one at a time to the baseline to create new data sets. Principal component analysis is then introduced for processing each data set so that patterns can be extracted and damage can be distinguished from environmental effects. The proposed method is tested using a two-dimensional truss structure and validated using measurements from the Z24 Bridge which was monitored for nearly a year, with damage scenarios applied to it near the end of the monitoring period. The results demonstrate the robustness of the proposed method for damage detection under changing environmental conditions. The method also works despite the nonlinear effects produced by environmental conditions on damage sensitivity features. Moreover, since each measurement is allowed to be analyzed one at a time, near real-time monitoring is possible. Damage progression can also be given from the method which makes it advantageous for damage evolution monitoring.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)850-868
Number of pages19
JournalStructural Health Monitoring
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2018


  • Damage detection
  • data normalization
  • environmental conditions
  • principal component analysis
  • structural health monitoring
  • temperature variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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