Quantifying the Impact of Climate Change on Flexible Pavement Performance and Lifetime in the United States

Academic Article


  • Flexible pavement design requires considering a variety of factors including the materials used, variations in water tables, traffic levels, and the climatic conditions the road will experience over its lifetime. Most pavement designs are based on historical climate variables such as temperature and precipitation that are already changing across much of the United States, and do not reflect projected trends. As pavements are typically designed to last 20 years or more, designs that do not account for current and future trends can result in reduced performance. However, incorporating climate projections into pavement design is not a trivial exercise. Significant mismatches in both spatial and temporal scale challenge the integration of the latest global climate model simulations into pavement models. This study provides a national-level overview of what the impact of climate change to flexible pavement could look like, and where regional focus should be placed. It also demonstrates a new approach to developing high-resolution spatial and temporal projections that generates hourly information at the scale of individual weather stations, and applies this as input to the AASHTOWare Pavement ME Design™ model. The impact of three different future climates on pavement performance and time to reach failure thresholds in 24 locations across the United States are quantified. Changes to projected pavement performance differ by location, but nearly all result in decreased performance under current design standards. The largest increases in distress are observed for permanent deformation measures, especially toward the end of the century under greater increases in temperature.
  • Authors

  • Stoner, Anne MK
  • Sias, Jo
  • Jacobs, Jennifer
  • Hayhoe, Katharine
  • Scott-Fleming, Ian
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 2019
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 110
  • End Page

  • 122
  • Volume

  • 2673
  • Issue

  • 1