Climate change is expected to expand at an increasing rate, affecting infrastructure globally, particularly transportation sectors in colder regions. Roads underlain by permafrost will be affected, with loss of structural integrity due to thawing permafrost. More than 50% of roads in Canada fall in this category. In addition, increased groundwater due to rising sea levels is already affecting coastal roads. Transportation infrastructure design should be adapting policies that consider the impacts of climate change, material selection, changing pavement mix design, and expanding drainage capacity. A new study in the Journal of Cold Regions Engineering, “Climate Change Challenges for Flexible Pavement in Canada: An Overview,” looks at how extreme weather events and climate change affect performance of flexible pavements in North America.

Authors Omran Maadani, Ph.D.; Mohammad Shafiee, Ph.D., P.Eng.; and Igor Egorov performed a literature review, investigating the effects of climate change on both northern and southern roads. They specifically looked at heat effect, permanent deformation, fatigue cracking, low temperature cracking, precipitation effects, hot mix asphalt layer, soil strength capacity, and soil freeze and thaw.

Learn more about their study and how heat and precipitation effect pavement in the abstract below, or by reading the full paper in the ASCE Library,


This paper provides an outlook on the effects of climate change and the severity and frequency of extreme weather events on the performance of flexible pavements across North America. Now more than ever, the climate is changing at a rapid pace, which will alter long-term environmental loading parameters and extreme weather events. Such alterations will pose implications for the design, maintenance, and rehabilitation of flexible pavements, especially in terms of their serviceability, safety, and functionality. In northern Canada, roads are founded on various terrain types, including thaw-sensitive ice-rich permafrost underlying terrains. Such roads have experienced signs of embankment and pavement damage, which are usually induced by the degradation of the underlying permafrost due to climate change. Therefore, the development and implementation of new permafrost thaw mitigation techniques for vulnerable roads are essential and will be discussed in this paper. Resilient flexible roads should be designed to withstand the conditions that are likely to occur during their design life, taking into account the impact of the climate change on pavement performance in response to daily and seasonal changes in heat, precipitation, freeze–thaw cycles, and extreme weather events

Read the full paper in the ASCE Library: