Adaptation of road infrastructure to climate change

Project 2
Analysis of the effects of climate change on road operation services
Source: Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt)


In terms of climate change, road maintenance has a dual role: On the one hand, emerging climate changes such as increasing temperatures or changing snowfall patterns have an impact on maintenance and care of road infrastructure, the central tasks of maintenance services. On the other hand, greenhouse gas emissions from road traffic are a significant cause of climate change. Herein lies an opportunity for maintenance services to contribute to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, such as through the prevention of traffic congestion.

Based on this, KliBet had the following aims:

  • To analyse the impact of weather conditions on road maintenance services
  • Regionally differentiated prognoses of anticipated climate changes based on existing global climate change studies
  • Deducing climate-related impacts on all road maintenance services in compliance with the Road Maintenance Requirements Specification Book
  • Deducing options within maintenance services to reduce road traffic-induced greenhouse gas emissions


Within the project, possible climatic influences on individual maintenance services in compliance with the Road Maintenance Requirements Specification Book have been displayed. In order to analyse the impact of weather conditions on these services, KliBet selected 12 highway and road maintenance units. These maintenance units were based in the following federal states: Hesse, Bavaria, Brandenburg, North Rhine-Westphalia and Baden-Württemberg and were selected due to their varying representative climatic conditions, topographies and traffic-related boundary conditions.

The staff hours of the maintenance units from 2006 – 2011 gave KliBet a significant gauge of the workload required to complete the various services, such as winter maintenance or mowing. This was supplemented by weather data recorded at measuring stations within the separate maintenance units’ networks. Both these data sources provided the input for a correlation analysis, which investigated as to there was a significant link between weather conditions and workload within the key service areas.

With the help of regional climate predictions based on the statistic climate model STARS (Statistical Analogue Resampling Scheme), it was possible to generate differentiated climate prognoses for the 12 maintenance units monitored. By overlapping the correlation of the impact of weather conditions and workload with differentiated climate prognoses, it was then possible to forecast the impact of climatic changes on workload of road maintenance services.


Up until 2030, the climate projection shows only slight changes in air temperature with a significant increase only predicted for the decades that follow. There will be increased precipitation in winter and a decrease of precipitation in summer. Regional differences of this development will be low.

Stagnating temperatures with simultaneous increase in precipitation until 2030 could lead to a medium rise in working hours for winter services and use of deicing salt a by about 10 per cent. Following this, a significant reduction of working hours as well as the required amounts of salt by around 16 per cent is predicted until 2050, and by 40 per cent until 2080 when compared with the reference period 1991 – 2010. Expenses for frost damage to carriageways will barely see any change until 2030. Only after this date a significant reduction in frost damage will be apparent.

In terms of mowing, expenses will also remain stable until 2030, only increasing after this date.

The impact of optimised service provisions in terms of CO2 emissions will be low in comparison with overall emissions from road traffic.

Project data

Term of project: 01/06/2012 – 30/12/2013

Institut für Immobilienökonomie, Infrastrukturplanung und Projektmanagement, Hochschule Biberach
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK)

BASt unit Z5
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