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Modern roads are NOT equipped for climate change: Rising temperatures will cause asphalt to melt and could cost countries billions to repair

Modern roads are NOT equipped for climate change: Rising temperatures will cause asphalt to melt and could cost countries billions to repair

When asked to recall the effects of climate change, you may think of melting ice caps or rising sea levels.

But a new study has shed light on another side effect of global warming – melting roads.

The study highlights that current materials used to build roads are not equipped to deal with rising temperatures and could melt, costing authorities billions to repair.

Researchers from Arizona State University analysed how current engineering practices used to build roads will be affected by a warming climate.

Their findings suggest that the results are likely to be more frequent repairs and a shortened lifespan for roads.

In their study, published in Nature Climate Change, the researchers, led by Dr Shane Underwood, wrote: ‘Roadway design aims to maximise functionality, safety, and longevity.

‘The materials used for construction, however, are often selected on the assumption of a stationary climate.

‘Anthropogenic climate change may therefore result in rapid infrastructure failure and, consequently, increased maintenance costs, particularly for paved roads where temperature is a key determinant for material selection.’

The researchers suggest that the problem comes down to asphalt – a temperature-sensitive material currently used in roads.

Asphalt is prone to cracking if it gets too cold and then thaws, or can melt if temperatures are high enough.

While the material can be tailored to tolerate the temperatures it’s likely to face, currently engineers base these estimates on data from 1964 to 1995.

But the researchers highlight that average global temperatures have risen significantly since then.

In their study, the researchers looked at data on the type of asphalt used in 800 roads across the US.

They then compared those types to the temperatures in those areas in recent years.

The results showed that 35 per cent of the roads were built using an inappropriate material.

In most cases, the asphalt used was designed to withstand cold temperatures that no longer occur, while in a quarter of cases, the asphalt was experiencing high temperatures that it couldn’t withstand.

Using the wrong type of asphalt comes with a huge economic burden, according to the researchers.

In total, the team estimates that the mismatch between roads and temperatures in 2010 added up to between $13 and $14 billion (£9.6 and £10.3 billion) in unnecessary expenses.

And in terms of predictions for the future, the researchers estimate that if carbon emissions remain uncontrolled, incorrect asphalt use could cost authorities $26 billion (£19 billion) in 2040, and $35 billion (£26 billion) in 2070.

The researchers wrote: ‘These costs will disproportionately affect local municipalities that have fewer resources to mitigate impacts.

‘Failing to update engineering standards of practice in light of climate change therefore significantly threatens pavement infrastructure in the United States.’

ECONOMIC BURDEN

Using the wrong type of asphalt comes with a huge economic burden, according to the researchers.

In total, the team estimates that the mismatch between roads and temperatures in 2010 added up to between $13 and $14 billion (£9.6 and £10.3 billion) in unnecessary expenses.

And in terms of predictions for the future, the researchers estimate that if carbon emissions remain uncontrolled, incorrect asphalt use could cost authorities $26 billion (£19 billion) in 2040, and $35 billion (£26 billion) in 2070.

Fuente de la noticia: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4902244/How-climate-change-affect-ROADS.html

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