Climate Change Impact on Road Systems and Pavement Performance

Climate Change Impact on Road Systems and Pavement Performance

Expansion of climate change is increasingly impacting global infrastructure systems, such as transportation networks and road systems, particularly in colder regions of the world. As temperatures warm, roads underlain by permafrost suffer a loss of integrity due to thawing permafrost — greater than half of all of the roads in Canada.

Further, as sea levels rise, groundwater impacts coastal roads. In a new study in the Journal of Cold Regions Engineering, “Climate Change Challenges for Flexible Pavement in Canada: An Overview,” the authors advocate for transportation infrastructure design to adapt policies that consider the impacts of climate change.

Authors Omran Maadani, Mohammad Shafiee, and Igor Egorov investigated the effects of climate change on roadways across Canada, and examined heat effect, permanent deformation, fatigue cracking, low temperature cracking, precipitation effects, hot mix asphalt layer, soil strength capacity, and soil freeze and thaw.

Abstract

This paper provides an outlook on the effects of climate change and the severity and frequency of extreme weather events on the performance of flexible pavements across North America. Now more than ever, the climate is changing at a rapid pace, which will alter long-term environmental loading parameters and extreme weather events. Such alterations will pose implications for the design, maintenance, and rehabilitation of flexible pavements, especially in terms of their serviceability, safety, and functionality. In northern Canada, roads are founded on various terrain types, including thaw-sensitive ice-rich permafrost underlying terrains. Such roads have experienced signs of embankment and pavement damage, which are usually induced by the degradation of the underlying permafrost due to climate change. Therefore, the development and implementation of new permafrost thaw mitigation techniques for vulnerable roads are essential and will be discussed in this paper. Resilient flexible roads should be designed to withstand the conditions that are likely to occur during their design life, taking into account the impact of the climate change on pavement performance in response to daily and seasonal changes in heat, precipitation, freeze–thaw cycles, and extreme weather events.

Read the full paper in the ASCE Library: https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CR.1943-5495.0000262

(Source: ASCE Library)

© 2022 American Society of Civil Engineers.

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