Environment

Cover of Impact of climate change on road infrastructure
Impact of climate change on road infrastructure
  • Publication no: AP-R243-04
  • ISBN: 0 85588 692 7
  • Published: 26 March 2004

There is an increasing body of evidence that the earth's climate is changing with some of the changes attributable to human activities. Climate change can have direct and indirect impacts on road infrastructure. The direct impacts are due to the effects of the environment. Rainfall changes can alter moisture balances and influence pavement deterioration and temperature can affect the aging of bitumen. Flood heights and frequencies are important considerations for the location and design of roads and bridges. Sea level rise and increased occurrence of storm surges will affect roads in coastal areas. Climate change will have an impact on salinity, which leads to high water tables that in turn reduce the structural strength of pavements. The indirect impacts of climate change on roads are due to the effects on the location of population and human activity altering the demand for roads. Road infrastructure is a long-lived investment. Roads typically have design lives of 20 to 40 years and bridges of 100 years.

An understanding of the expected impacts of future climate change by road planners, designers and asset managers could engender considerable cost savings in the long term. At the broad strategic level, if road providers are forewarned of any costly future effects on existing infrastructure, they can better prepare to deal with them. This report provides an assessment of likely local effects of climate change for all Australia for the next 100 years, based on the best scientific assessment currently available assesses likely impacts on patterns of demography and industry, and hence on the demand for road infrastructure  identifies likely effects on existing road infrastructure and potential adaptation measures in road construction and maintenance; and reports on policy implications arising from the findings.

  • Executive Summary
  • 1. Introduction
    • 1.1 Objectives of the project
    • 1.2 Structure of the project
    • 1.3 Structure of the report
  • 2. Climate Change
    • 2.1. Outline and summary
      • 2.1.1. Observational Evidence of Climate Change
      • 2.1.2. Atmospheric Composition Change and Emission Scenarios
      • 2.1.3. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
      • 2.1.4. Climate Change Projections for Australia
      • 2.1.5. Using computer models to understand Climate Change in the Australian Region
    • 2.2. Simulating the Impacts of Climate Change
    • 2.3. Greenhouse Gas emission scenarios and Global Warming Projections
    • 2.4. CSIRO Climate Model Output (regional patterns of change)
    • 2.5. Climate change modelling: Uncertainties
    • 2.6. Climate change modelling: Future enhancements
    • 2.7. Contacts for Climate change information
    • 2.8. Sea-level rise projections for Australia
    • 2.9. Tropical Cyclones, Storm Surges and extreme sea levels
    • 2.10. Acknowledgements
    • 2.11. Disclaimer
    • 2.12. References and Further Reading
    • 2.13. List of appendices
  • 3. Impact of Climate Change on Road Infrastructure
    • 3.1 Executive Summary
    • 3.2 Climate Data Processing
    • 3.3 Population Demographics
    • 3.4 Transport Demand
    • 3.5 Pavement Deterioration
  • 4. Impact of Climate Change on Salinity in the Murray–Darling Basin
    • 4.1. Introduction
    • 4.2. Tradeoffs in the hydrological cycle under global warming
    • 4.3. Methodology
    • 4.4. Key findings
    • 4.5. References
  • 5. Policy Implications
    • 5.1. Uncertainty
    • 5.2. Demand for road use
    • 5.3. Road design and maintenance
    • 5.4. Further research
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A1 Screen Capture of Thornthwaite Calculator Calculation Sheet
    • Appendix A2 Table of GW (Degc predicted increase) for different SRES Scenarios
    • appendix A3 Rainfall and Temperature Charts
    • Appendix D1 PLCC Model
    • Appendix D2 HDM-4 Model
    • Appendix D3 PLCC Road Network Results
    • Appendix D4 HDM4-road Network Results
    • Appendix E1 Evidence of Climate Change
    • Appendix E2 Atmospheric Composition Change Emission Scenarios
    • Appendix E3 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third Assessment Report (TAR) “Climate Change 2001”
    • Appendix E4 CSIRO Climate Models