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Effect of climate change on road infrastructure

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The climate change debate has moved away from whether or not there is evidence of climate change to what must be done to minimise the impacts. At 14 November 2017, Christ van Gurp showed at the annual JERI study day at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne what the effects of climate change might be for the road infrastructure in Switzerland in the oncoming decades. Although local hazards might be different, the general message of his presentation applies to each country in Europe.

Temperature and precipitation are key factors
The earth will become warmer both in summer as in winter. The magnitude of the change of temperature depends on the location in Europe but will also be dependent on political decisions. The amount of precipitation will not change much but the frequency and severity of extreme weather events will increase. Where in a country as Switzerland, sea level rise will hardly have any influence, the change will certainly have an impact on the Netherlands. Temperature and precipitation are from all climate factors the key elements effecting design, construction, maintenance and operation of roads.

Mitigation actions can be defined after conducting risk and vulnerability assessments especially at project level. At local level geology, geography (e.g. road close to river), drainage and pavement condition will be the key hazard points. Mitigation is the ability of a system to respond successfully to climate variability and change and to include adjustment in behaviour, technologies and resources. Sufficient technical solutions are available in Western Europe and modification of principal design parameters will not be too difficult. Besides that, adaptation can be combined with normal rehabilitation. Kiwa KOAC can help you to assess the vulnerability of your road system and to develop candidate mitigation actions.

For more information, please contact:
Christ van Gurp (senior consultant)
telefoon 088 562 26 72
e-mail Consultancy

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