Adaptation of road infrastructure to climate change

Project 1
Risk analysis of key transit axes of the federal main road network in the context of climate change (RIVA)
Source: Uwe Steinbrich /


The „Risk analysis of key transit axes of the federal main road network in the context of climate change” project (RIVA for short) is the central project of AdSVIS. The aim of RIVA is to develop tools for identifying, analysing and assessing risks posed by climate change.

The project is a follow-up to the ERA-NET ROAD project „RIMAROCC“ (Risk Management for Roads in a Changing Climate) in which concepts for monitoring current risks to road infrastructures have been developed. A suitable method that provides a basis for a customised solution for complex road networks was lacking until now. Therefore, the particular challenge faced in the RIVA project is developing a methodology that can be applied to the entire network, allowing the use of standardised collected data.


A central aspect of RIVA is to assess risks posed to the federal highway network by a changing climate, with „risk" being understood as the function of cause and effect. The road network is assigned a hierarchical indicator model, evolving from this climate change-induced risk that comprises of four factors:

  • Climate events such as frost or heavy rainfall
  • Vulnerability of risk elements such as bridges or asphalt-paved carriageways
  • Impact properties, such as replacement investments or accident rates resulting from climate event impacts on risk elements
  • The criticality of, for example, congestion as an indicator of the significance of the infra-structure in terms of society’s security of supply

A priority item to be assessed is the category of damage. It encompasses typical manifestations of damages that can be caused by climate events. Thus cracks and edge spalling on concrete carriageways are, for example, not viewed as individual types of damage but are allocated within the damage category „frost-related damages / restrictions in concrete carriageways". Together with experts, indicators for each damage category have been developed to define potential dangers and effects. Each indicator is ordered according to the state of expression using a four-step scale and thus enabling risk assessment.

By applying these states of expression, the risk potential of the test section has been calcu-lated, resulting from a combination of potential dangers and impacts.

28 technical and three road user-related damage categories were initially identified within a risk analysis. The resulting model also allows damage categories to be extended or existing ones to be modified.

Schematische Darstellung der Bedeutung der Schadensbildkategorien im Rahmen der RIVA-Methodik
Schematic diagram presenting significance of damage categories within the RIVA methodology


In order to test the methodology, risk analysis was carried out on nine federal highways with lengths of 60 – 130 km. The selected routes presented a variety of traffic volume, construction types, and states of maintenance, climatic and regional conditions. The results were shown for each partial route and for varying periods of time.

In addition, it would now be possible to develop a tool that presents information on potential dangers and impacts faced by individual routes or networks nationwide. This is based on regionalised climate projections as well as infrastructure and traffic information included in a standardised form for the entire network. The customised solution might present results as laid out in the following diagram:

Mögliche Darstellung des Risikopotenzials einzelner Streckenabschnitte im Rahmen einer Anwenderlösung
Possible presentation of potential risks on an individual route as part of a customised solution

Project data

Term of project: 01/01/2012 to 31/12/2014

Alfen Consult
Krebs + Kiefer
Climate and Environment Consulting (CEC) Potsdam GmbH

BASt unit Z5
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