Nature is unpredictable in every possible way. The natural ways of change of climate do not
come under the control of human beings but it is seen that human activities are immensely
responsible, rather mostly responsible for climate change which has dangerous effects, even in
our daily lives.
Climate change or global warming has huge effects on roads, rather maintenance of roads.
Transportation is hugely effected due to climate change. This project mainly focuses on the
cause and effects of climate change and how climate leaves a great impact on the maintenance of
roads which is becoming difficult with each day (United States Environmental Protection
Agency, 2016). The rise of sea level and sea storm greatly affect the road transport infrastructure.
Road maintenance has been under great turmoil especially in hilly areas and this project seeks to
draw attention towards this entire issue.
Climate also has direct impact on the performance of the transportation infrastructure. With
global warming enhancing drastically sudden changes in different aspects of our lives are clearly
visible, among which road and transportation play a pivotal role. Hence human beings are duty
bound to keep Mother Earth safe to enjoy a safe life further. This project also discusses the
needful measures to be taken to overcome these climatic impacts on road maintenance as well as
transport infrastructure. Here the paper identifies vulnerable components of transport
infrastructure that are highly at risk.
CAUSES OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change depends on the balance between energy entering and leaving the planet system.
As per records, naturally climate changes over a wide range of time, while drastic climate change
occurs especially due to global warming (Environmental Defence Fund, 2016).
Volcanic eruptions, variation in solar radiation, movements of crustal plates etc are the various
natural causes of climate change.
Volcanic Eruptions: – volcanic eruptions have been great causes for change of climate from a
long period of time. In volcanic eruptions, volcanoes release ash particles and sulphur-dioxide
into the stratosphere. These pave the way for sulphuric acid and these are highly responsible for
the gradual change of climate.
Variation in Solar radiation: – the total amount of solar radiation varies by very small amounts. Every 11 years the sunspots changes from a maximum to a minimum number. More sunspots causes global warming and that is the burning issue of climate change in recent times.
Movement of Crustal Plates: – as tectonic plates move, landmasses are carried along to different positions. These are the main causes of change of global circulation of patterns of air and ocean waters and climate of the continent.
Human Activities: – human activities contribute to environmental change by bringing about changes in the Earth’s climate in the amounts of green house gas, small particles and cloudiness. The burning of fossil fuels and emission of smoke from vehicles contribute mostly to the causing of global warming.
EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change has been the biggest challenge this generation has even faced and there are lots of effects of climate change – species extinction, effects on forests, effects on water bodies etc(Schweikert, Chinowsky, Espinet, & Tarbert, 2014).
Species Extinction: – species extinction is probably the biggest cause of global warming. After innumerable surveys, they have concluded that a rise of another 1.5 degree in temperature can put 20-30% species at risk.
Effects on forests: – it is known that forests help to regulate world’s climate but due to global warming situation has turned topsy turvey and many plants and animals are in danger.
Effects on water: – climate change is having serious effects on the water bodies of the world and creating impediments the equilibrium of the earth. More floods and droughts are the dangerous consequences of climate change and these are indelibly affecting the entire planet system. It is threatening food chains in the oceans and seas.
CLIMATIC IMPACTS ON ROAD MAINTENANCE
Climate affects road deterioration, vehicle operating coasts, road safety, ice roads and the environment. Higher temperature can cause pavements to soften and expand. These badly affect the entire road system because of growth of potholes and rutting. These particularly in hightraffic areas can place stress on different bridge points. Heat waves can be a big circumstance for construction, especially in areas with high humidity. With these changes and impediments,maintenance of roads and highways becomes more costly. Climate change is projected to concentrate on rainfalls into more intense storms. Disruption of traffic, delay in construction activities are highly responsible for flooding caused due to heavy rainfall. But heavy rainfall weakens or washes out soil and culverts that supports roads, tunnels and bridges.
Exposure to flooding and excessive snowfall shortens or reduces the life expectancy of roads and highways. The damage naturally at a single stroke cuts down the longevity of the roads. The stress of water and snow may cause huge damage, which requires repairs that are more frequent, maintenance and reconstruction.
Road infrastructure in the coastal areas is mainly prone to damage and sensitive to more frequent and permanent flooding from sea level rise and storm surges. For example, in the United States, approximately 60,000 miles of coastal roads are already exposed to flooding due to coastal storms and high waves. Now if surveys are to be taken into consideration, major highways in coastal areas serve as critical evacuation routes (ScienceDirect, 2010). To curb this problem, evacuation routes must be protected so that they may be used in emergencies. In some of the mountainous areas, warmer temperatures are projected to cause enough of winter precipitation so that it falls as rain instead of snow. Floods during winter can happen more frequently if the frozen grounds cannot absorb the precipitation. Landslides and washouts may also occur quite frequently, as saturated soils are exposed more to rainwater. Roads and related infrastructures are threatened due to droughts that prevails more in southwest locations. Wild fires reduce visibility which is dangerous for road safety.
There are three major climate factor that affect road transportation – rain, temperature and wind. Weather conditions have direct implications on road maintenance and its transportation. Winter roads are extremely sensitive and hence needs extra care for its safety and sustenance. Climate change has implications on the need for anti-icing and de-icing as well as other aspects of winter roads maintenance. Road maintenance costs are rising day by day due to excessive negative impacts of climate. Climate change is estimated to increase the total costs arising from roads maintenance to a certain extent. Scientists have found out, there is a huge probability of road accidents due to natural adversities in winter roads. With milder winters, roads are likely to be free from snow for longer periods of time; hence roads and traffics remain comparatively safer. Most highways have already faced the bitter impacts of climatic adversities. In recent years, summer heat waves, drought and increasing flooding have caused huge damage not only in roads of India but in UK as well.
Asia is one such continent where impacts on roads due to climate have been always high. The predicted factors that will affect the road and transport system are –
• The extended warm weather is responsible for the pavement deterioration due to melting of Bitumen, heating and thermal expansion of bridges. Decrease of temperature results to snowfall and ice removal costs are pretty high.
• The increase in winter precipitation affects drainage capacities, road pavements, driving condition and visibility. Increase in the summer precipitation gives way to flooding that equally affects the drainage system putting the road conditions highly at risk.
• A Road block due to landslides is yet another problem faced due to the negative impacts of climate.
• Rainfall and winds associated with cyclone create flooding and affects roads poorly. These mostly disrupt traffic.
• Rise in sea level affects roads in and around coastal area. In many cases, there may be need to realign or abandon the affected coastal infrastructure.
Therefore, appropriate consideration of potential weather means in planning, designing and maintenance of the transportation system would increase serviceability and life of roads and pavements. Given the importance of transport infrastructure, both socially and economically, it is important that the transport system adapts to the projected changes in climate.
MEASURES TO BE TAKEN
• A National framework should be created in order to prevent or minimize the adverse effects of
• Proper planning and implementation of the measures are required.
• The dimension of drainage infrastructure to extreme rainfall needs to be adapted in the best way
• Modified materials should be used to combat heat that poorly affects the pavements.
Road maintenance is immensely important and essential in order to preserve the roads in its
originally constructed forms, protect adjacent resources and user safety, and provide efficient as
well as convenient travel along the route. Many a time, roads are not maintained properly and
neglected which results to further deterioration of roads and eventual failure from climatic
impacts. Probably the most valuable and fruitful tool for maintenance program is the knowledge
and what’s more, experience picked up by people playing out the maintenance (ResearchGate,
2016).Drainage system must be always kept free from debris, culverts and other obstructions. Road surfaces should be reworked and re-examined as per need. All season roads would necessarily require continual survey and monitoring for surface and sub grade wear or deterioration. Immediate responsive programs should be arranged as far as combating storms to protect roads is concerned. Weather data should be collected regularly in order to take immediate actions if needed. As transport plays a vital role in the entire system of an area, roads need to be put into check with regular observation. Transport also plays a very important role in mobilizing immediate help and relief to the areas affected by extreme climate changes, safety measures for road itself has to be prepared to curb accidents and fatal problems.
Environmental Defence Fund. (2016). Climate change impacts. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from
ResearchGate. (2016). The impact of climate change on winter road maintenance and traffic
accidents in West Midlands, UK. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from www.researchgate.net:
Schweikert, A., Chinowsky, P., Espinet, X., & Tarbert, M. (2014). Climate Change and
Infrastructure Impacts: Comparing the Impact on Roads in ten Countries through 2100.
Retrieved August 22, 2016, from http://www.sciencedirect.com/:
ScienceDirect. (2010). The impact of climate change on winter road maintenance and traffic
accidents in West Midlands, UK. Retrieved August 22, 2016, from
United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2016, August 10). Causes of Climate Change.
Retrieved August 22, 2016, from www3.epa.gov: