Climate change and winter road maintenance
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionLorentzen, T. (2020). Climate change and winter road maintenance. Climatic Change, 161(1), 225–242. 10.1007/s10584-020-02662-0
The objective of the article is to analyse the impact of short- and long-term climate variations on the costs of removing snow and ice from the roads in Bergen—the second most populous city in Norway. The analysis applies simple mathematics, Monte Carlo simulations and multivariate regression methodology. The municipality of Bergen manages about 630 km of roads and 100 km of foot and bicycle paths, and the municipal administration spends NOK 37 million (or about USD 4.5 million) annually on removing snow and ice during the winter period. The analysis shows that a 1 °C increase in the mean temperature reduces the winter maintenance costs by NOK 14 million, and it is likely that there will be no need for winter snow-clearing operations if the long-term mean atmospheric temperature increases by approximately 2.5 °C or more relative to the historical mean temperature level. The analysis shows that the variance and trend of the temperature have a strong effect on the likelihood of a snow- and ice-free winter and that a long-term reduction in the variance reduces the likelihood of rare events even though the mean temperature increases. The analysis provides the municipality of Bergen with information about the relationship between climate and winter road maintenance costs, and the statistical models can help to quantify the amount of economic and material resources needed for this purpose. The analysis is a contribution in the field of economic impact analysis of climate change on the transport sector.