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Is Our Infrastructure Ready For Rising Temperatures? 416

Posted by Soulskill
from the all-the-more-reason-to-aircondition-the-outdoors dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Megan Garber writes that last weekend, a US Airways flight taxiing for takeoff from Washington's Reagan National Airport got stuck on the tarmac for three hours because the tarmac had softened from the heat, and the plane had created — and then sunk into — a groove from which it couldn't, at first, be removed. So what makes an asphalt tarmac, the foundation of our mighty air network, turn to sponge? The answer is that our most common airport surface might not be fully suited to its new, excessively heated environment. One of asphalt's main selling points is precisely the fact that, because of its pitchy components, it's not quite solid: It's 'viscoelastic,' which makes it an ideal surface for the airport environment. As a solid, asphalt is sturdy; as a substance that can be made from — and transitioned back to — liquid, it's relatively easy to work with. And, crucially, it makes for runway repair work that is relatively efficient. But those selling points can also be asphalt's Achilles heel. Viscoelasticity means that the asphalt is always capable of liquefying. The problem, for National Airport's tarmac and the passengers who were stuck on it, was that this weekend's 100+-degree temperatures were a little less room temperature-like than they'd normally be, making the asphalt a little less solid that it would normally be. 'As ironic and as funny as the imgur seen round the world is, it may also be a hint at what's in store for us in a future of weirding weather. An aircraft sinking augurs the new challenges we'll face as temperatures keep rising.'"
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Is Our Infrastructure Ready For Rising Temperatures?

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  • Nothing new (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Narmi (161370) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:23PM (#40608735) Homepage

    Lots of bus stops where buses are expected to sit for a while are paved with concrete because of this problem. When it's really hot out, buses sink into asphalt.

    • Not sure what it is but the tarry substance they use to fill cracks in ashphalt often turns into a sticky, black, chewing gum like substance in the Aussie heat. The more modern roads (freways,ect) don't appear to use it. Some of the older freeways use concrete but concrete has problems too since it expands in the heat, the concrete freeways have expansion joints to compensate but I've seen concrete footpaths buckle in the heat so badly that kids were using it as a skateboard jump.
      • by fotbr (855184)

        While kids using buckled footpaths as skateboard jumps is impresive, it pales in comparison to this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf0l3NO-35U [youtube.com] from Wisconsin just a few days ago.

        • There were several issues I had with that video but the biggest one was the person filming. At first they do a great job of holding their phone (I'm presuming it's a phone) steady so you can see the SUV launch into the air, but then they turn and twist the phone so it's all but impossible to watch what happens afterwards.

          Folks, if you're going to film something like this, DO NOT TWIST THE CAMERA! Hold it steady and pan left/right so people can see what you're trying to show them. You don't have to be a f

      • by Shavano (2541114)
        That black tarry stuff is called tar. It's used to fill cracks because it prevents water penetration that will eventually cause much more serious damage to the roadway, especially if you live in country where frost is possible.
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:22PM (#40609231)

      Correction to the article, runways are made of thick concrete. Ramps and Taxiways are made of asphalt since they don't need to absorb the impact of an airplane landing gear traveling at 100+ MPH.

      • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

        by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @11:23PM (#40610467)

        Actually you have it the wrong way around. Most runways are asphalt with concrete landing areas while taxiways are concrete so aircraft can sit on them or long periods of time. Asphalt is used because it does not have expansion joints and is less susceptible to heaving. Here [antigoconstruction.com] is an example of a USAF airfield with just that configuration. Note that the taxi ways are a light colour while most of the runway is dark. In the text it explains exactly what kind of asphalt was used. Here is another example [goo.gl] in Alaska. Notice that the aircraft are sitting on concrete while most of the rest of the taxiways and runways are asphalt.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by aklinux (1318095)
        Depends on the airport. At larger airports, even the taxiways are concrete. The heavier the aircraft serviced, the thicker the concrete. Many, maybe most, runways & taxiways are topped with some inches of asphalt. The asphalt is largely sacrificial.

        A highway engineer of my acquaintance told me that in states such as California it's common to use concrete topped w/ asphalt for intersections and a distance out to support the vehicles stopped for traffic lights. If you want to see what happens to heavily t

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SternisheFan (2529412) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:36PM (#40609343)

      Lots of bus stops where buses are expected to sit for a while are paved with concrete because of this problem. When it's really hot out, buses sink into asphalt.

      Yes, asphalt's cheaper and quicker to lay down, cheaper to replace too. N.Y.'s Palisades Parkway was made all concrete back in 1958 and only in the last decade or so have heavily trafficed sections been resurfaced with asphalt. Concrete does rarely 'buckle' in high heat though. The recent heat wave made a section of a U.S. highway raise up, catching a motorist doing highway speed unaware. http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DoHMdjhEI73c&v=oHMdjhEI73c&gl=US [youtube.com]

    • Re:Nothing new (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:54PM (#40609503)

      Lots of bus stops where buses are expected to sit for a while are paved with concrete because of this problem. When it's really hot out, buses sink into asphalt.

      I think the actual reason for the concrete is that the frequent stops by heavy vehicles "pull" the blacktop like taffy, making a wavy spot on the road.

      You get the same effect at stop lights on highways/boulevards that carry a lot of heavy vehicles.

    • by Chewbacon (797801)
      Would a decent foundation mitigate this? I can understand the asphalt compressing and making ruts, but what's underneath supporting it? As I live in a city where road construction never fucking ends, I see a lot clay, gravel, etc. get laid down before it's paved over. Since there are airports in hotter areas of the world with airports (remember, USA is not the only place on earth), could this be an isolated incident where poor engineering is to blame?
  • Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:23PM (#40608739)
    Our infrastructure was built 40 years ago and had a 25 year life expectancy. Every day that things dont simply fall apart is a blessing. Since apparently putting people to work rebuilding and improving things would be socialsim, so I guess there's nothing we can do about it.
    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ThatsMyNick (2004126) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:28PM (#40608783)

      Er, a tarmac can simply be maintained for a longer life. I am not sure if ripping it off and rebuilding it would be socialism, but it would definitely be stupid.

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:48PM (#40608949)
      No, not an infrastructure problem.

      Tarmac is formulated for specific climates, so that it heats and flows properly for the maximum temperature expected in that area. For instance, 25 years ago in the region where I live, a Hot day was around 80 degrees. So the asphalt mix used was intended for that sort of climate. Now that our summers mave many days in the mid-upper 90's, and a few that tweak 100, that asphalt is out of it's temperature range.

      The reason that they use different mixes depending on climate is that the mixes that set will in a cooler climate, also have some resistance to frost heaving. The mixes that harden at a higher temp are more brittle at freezing temps.

      This is probably more than anyone wants to know about asphalt paving or tarmacadam.

      Otherwise, yeah, we are sure letting a lot of stuff fall apart.

      • The reason that they use different mixes depending on climate is that the mixes that set will in a cooler climate, also have some resistance to frost heaving. The mixes that harden at a higher temp are more brittle at freezing temps.

        So what's the solution for a place like Indiana that can reach both 0 deg F (-18 deg C) and 100 deg F (38 deg C)?

        • by PopeRatzo (965947) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:24PM (#40609249) Homepage Journal

          So what's the solution for a place like Indiana that can reach both 0 deg F (-18 deg C) and 100 deg F (38 deg C)?

          Here in Chicago, we have a bigger swing than that by about 15 deg F. We've gone from less than -10 deg to 105 deg.

          I swear, sometimes on the same day. Two weeks ago, we had very nearly a 50 degree swing in the course of 30 hours.

          Last week, when we were over 100 all week long, there were pavement buckles all over the expressways. Thing is, we can make infrastructure that will last, but it means making it a priority higher than building an embassy in Iraq bigger than the Vatican.

          • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @09:19PM (#40609701) Homepage Journal

            but it means making it a priority higher than building an embassy in Iraq bigger than the Vatican.

            Heck, we can feed everybody in the world who doesn't have a secure supply of food for 1/10th the US military budget. But when was the last time Starvin Marvin donated generously to a PAC, eh?

            • Heck, we can feed everybody in the world who doesn't have a secure supply of food for 1/10th the US military budget. But when was the last time Starvin Marvin donated generously to a PAC, eh?

              True, but then we'd need ten times the military budget to actually get it to the people who need it. If it was as simple as just giving people food, we'd already do it. Instead, if we hand out food, it gets collected and used or sold again by dictators, warlords, and corrupt officials and the people who need it never see the money or the food.

        • by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @10:12PM (#40610039)

          So what's the solution for a place like Indiana that can reach both 0 deg F (-18 deg C) and 100 deg F (38 deg C)?

          Building the road better, mostly. Layering is important. and drainage is critical. the larger the extremes, the more water you have to get well away from the asphalt.

        • by thegarbz (1787294)

          The temperature ranges asphalt are supplied in do not have a constant width. They can be cold temperatures, warm temperatures, wide temperatures. Same goes for other weathering conditions. There are asphalt grades which are resistant to moisture, and others where a sudden prolonged storm will gouge out massive potholes.

          The problem is different types of asphalt are made from different grades of crude, have different polymers blended into them, and are put through different production processes (like blowing)

      • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:19PM (#40609201)

        I highly doubt in 25 years the average climate in your region has changes from highs of 80 to highs of 95-99. That would be a cataclysmically drastic climate shift. Even the most alarmist of IPCC scientists is looking at global warming on the scale of 2-3 degrees in 40-50 years. I really wish people would stop blaming hot days on global warming, it just makes us all look stupid. Keep this in mind the next time you have an unseasonably cold day :P

        • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Maow (620678) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @09:52PM (#40609903) Journal

          I highly doubt in 25 years the average climate in your region has changes from highs of 80 to highs of 95-99.

          Parent didn't claim "average". They claimed higher summer peak temps. These can be offset by colder winter temperatures leaving averages little changed.

          That would be a cataclysmically drastic climate shift. Even the most alarmist of IPCC scientists is looking at global warming on the scale of 2-3 degrees in 40-50 years.

          Agreed.

          I really wish people would stop blaming hot days on global warming, it just makes us all look stupid.

          I really wish everyone pointing out changing weather patterns over the course of our lifetimes would stop saying it cannot be due to climate change. It makes us^W them look stupid.

          Keep this in mind the next time you have an unseasonably cold day :P

          You keep that in mind when re-reading the GP post: he said more hot summer days, you said he claimed averages.

          Of course, I'm not saying the GP is correct about the amount of temperature swing, but it does jive with my personal experience and with scientific predictions.

        • Think again. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ukemike (956477) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @10:41PM (#40610225) Homepage

          I highly doubt in 25 years the average climate in your region has changes from highs of 80 to highs of 95-99. That would be a cataclysmically drastic climate shift. Even the most alarmist of IPCC scientists is looking at global warming on the scale of 2-3 degrees in 40-50 years. I really wish people would stop blaming hot days on global warming, it just makes us all look stupid. Keep this in mind the next time you have an unseasonably cold day :P

          The 2-3 degrees increase is for the average global temperature. The sorts of changes of local seasonal high temperatures have already been seen in the 2003 and 2011 heat waves in Europe.

          And while it is difficult to blame particular weather events on climate change it is clear that the last decade of very extreme outlier weather events is attributable to climate change. http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn22037-climate-change-boosted-odds-of-texas-drought.html [newscientist.com]

        • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Funny)

          by Black Parrot (19622) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @02:59AM (#40611619)

          [snip flame war]

          Remember the good ol' days, when polite folk talked about the weather because politics or religion might lead to an argument?

          [maybe it's all the flame wars that's causing all the hot]

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          I highly doubt in 25 years the average climate in your region has changes from highs of 80 to highs of 95-99. That would be a cataclysmically drastic climate shift. Even the most alarmist of IPCC scientists is looking at global warming on the scale of 2-3 degrees in 40-50 years. I really wish people would stop blaming hot days on global warming, it just makes us all look stupid. Keep this in mind the next time you have an unseasonably cold day :P

          Problem #1 - mixed units. You're using degress in Farenheit, w

      • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by styrotech (136124) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:33PM (#40609311)

        Yep. It is also why (in temperate regions at least - ie no real freezing) resealing work is ideally always done at the hottest time of the year.

        There's an optimal viscosity for laying the stuff. So by sealing in summer they can then use a mix with the highest possible melting temp to hopefully avoid these sticky summer situations. Sealing roads etc when its colder requires a runnier mix, which then doesn't handle summers quite as well.

        Of course places with a very wide seasonal temperature range make this much more challenging.

    • Re:Nope. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Black Parrot (19622) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:58PM (#40609533)

      Our infrastructure was built 40 years ago and had a 25 year life expectancy. Every day that things dont simply fall apart is a blessing. Since apparently putting people to work rebuilding and improving things would be socialsim, so I guess there's nothing we can do about it.

      FWIW, worries about our infrastructure started at least 30 years ago. The eternal problem is that politicians want their names associated with new stuff, but there's no glamour to be had for legislating money to paint rusty bridges or repave ragged-out highways.

      • by RogerWilco (99615)

        The problem is that the US still has a lot of frontier spirit, and isn't used to having a lot of legacy in their infrastructure or buildings.

        The move to social security and universal health care is a sign of the same thing. Where in the past the US could rely on an influx of young healthy immigrants to keep things running and could afford not to care for the old and the sick, with the shift to much stricter immigration the US is much more dependent on the existing population for it's work force.

        As the US ge

    • Re:Nope. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DerekLyons (302214) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .retawriaf.> on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:40AM (#40610867) Homepage

      Our infrastructure was built 40 years ago and had a 25 year life expectancy. Every day that things dont simply fall apart is a blessing. Since apparently putting people to work rebuilding and improving things would be socialsim, so I guess there's nothing we can do about it.

      That's what the soundbites you hear would have you believe. But it's bullshit. We, as a nation, spend tens of billions a year maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure and building new infrastructure.

  • by Aranykai (1053846) <slgonser@g m a i l . c om> on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:26PM (#40608753)

    This is news to us in Dallas. Our international airport has been fine for many, many days of 105+ temperatures.

    Clearly this is a case of poor engineering and substandard materials, not 'hot environment destroying asphalt'.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I was going to say the same thing about Phoenix. We have at least a couple months of almost continuous 100+ temps and never hear of issues like this.

      • by SomeJoel (1061138) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:34PM (#40608835)
        I also live near Phoenix. They do in fact occasionally shut down airport traffic when it hits the mid-high 110s (or even 120s). I'm not sure if it's because of this particular problem, or if the airplanes overheat.
        • by mythosaz (572040) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:44PM (#40608929)
          High temperatures thin air.  Thin air makes for less lift.  Less lift makes for dangerous takeoffs.
          • by riverat1 (1048260) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:47PM (#40609445)

            Do you think the air in Phoenix (1200 feet) is ever at thin as the air in Denver (5280 feet)? Just by eyeballing it appears the density altitude [wikipedia.org] in Phoenix at 115 F is about 4,000 feet.

          • by Rich0 (548339) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @10:49PM (#40610277) Homepage

            The performance of aircraft engines at various altitudes and temperatures are well-understood. Before anything the size of an airliner takes off the crew calculates exactly how much thrust is needed to complete the takeoff safely.

            Things considered include:
            1. Temperature
            2. Altitude
            3. Takeoff weight
            4. Runway length (from start point to end of runway).
            5. Any obstructions beyond the end of the runway.
            6. Runway slope
            7. Head/tailwind
            8. Flap configuration
            9. Ground conditions (wet, ice, etc - this matters if the takeoff needs to be aborted)

            I might have missed something, but there are charts for every aircraft with any model of engines that allow you to look all this stuff up and determine if the takeoff can be performed safely. A safe takeoff is one where the aircraft can reach a safe speed and clear all obstacles should an engine fail right at the point of no return, and also where the aircraft can lose an engine right before the point of no return and stop before the end of the runway. None of this stuff is left to chance.

            Usually there is a considerable margin beyond what is necessary for a safe takeoff, and in this case the pilots instruct the aircraft to use less than full thrust. That saves wear and tear on the engines, reduces noise, and also gets rid of the "Top Gun" effect when a jet powered to haul cargo takes off mostly empty.

            If the air is too hot to take off safely on any available runway then the plane doesn't take off. Of course, they know that this will happen before they bother to load the plane - they would take on less cargo/etc if they could, or cancel the flight.

            • by cnettel (836611)
              As anecdotal evidence, an intended direct flight from Las Vegas to Frankfurt was changed in the last minute to include a refuelling stop in Iceland, due to very high temperatures in Vegas. I suppose the main point was to reduce the weight at original liftoff and this way was cheaper to the airline compared to refusing passengers and cargo. We were only about an hour late at our destination, if memory serves me.
        • Sky Harbor (Score:5, Informative)

          by overshoot (39700) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:58PM (#40609043)

          Sky Harbor (Phoenix airport) doesn't use asphalt runways for precisely this reason: archaeologists would be digging the bones of widebodied aircraft out of the tarpit centuries from now.

          FWIW, the record temperature at Sky Harbor was 50C. They had to shut down the airport until it cooled off because the standard tables for flap settings didn't go that high. Now they do.

        • Some years back (circa 1990) the Phoenix airport shut down when the air temperature went above 120 degrees F, the maximum for which most jets had been certified (in terms of safe take-off weight) under US FAA rules. Several people from our company were stranded for a few hours until evening when the air temperature dropped back down. IIRC, Boeing took at least one model of all its jets to Saudi Arabia, along with the FAA-qualified measurement gear, and certified the planes to 125 degrees.
    • by Svartormr (692822)
      You have either concrete runways with asphalt sealing or a different mix of asphalt that is more viscous at a given temperature.
    • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:32PM (#40608821)

      Clearly this is a case of poor engineering and substandard materials

      They've just mixed the asphalt for the expected climate instead of having the same mix that would be used in Dallas, or a different mix again for a hot tropical climate. Other expected problems are rails buckling and problems with elongation of power lines.

      • by profplump (309017)

        Actually rail lines aren't a problem -- they are stretched when installed so that when the air temperature is ~100 degrees there's no stress on the line.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rail_stressing [wikipedia.org]

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          That's cool for the rail that goes across the country, which is continuous, which (as per the Wikipedia article with no citations you referenced) is the kind of rail which is stretched during installation. All the rail I've ever seen up close is bolted... there must be plenty of rail for which this will be a problem.

        • by Alioth (221270)

          No, continuously welded rails are a problem if the temperature is hotter than expected. Typically the rails are pre-stressed to cope with the hottest rail temperatures expected. In the case of extreme heatwaves, if the rail temperature gets higher than it was prestressed for, it's likely to buckle. Usually this happens while a train is going across it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Not if the materials were chosen for expected temperatures that are no longer the norm. Washington D.C. has not historically had "many, many days of 105+ temperatures", so why would engineers waste money designing for such a scenario? A quick Google search for 'average temperature US cities" turns up one table showing a 5.8 degree difference between average July temp in Washington D.C. vs. Dallas TX.
    • by Virtucon (127420)

      Well the runways at DFW are almost three feet thick in some places and the tarmacs are all concrete or concrete block based as well, not asphalt. Asphalt is used at DCA/Reagan for aircraft taxi. Looking at the picture it looks like it got stuck on one of the taxiways probably at the end of the runway where on either end of the main runway there are large concrete marshalling areas where planes sit waiting to take off. I wonder what the takeoff weight was for that particular flight. I know on MD80s flyin

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      This is news to us in Dallas. Our international airport has been fine for many, many days of 105+ temperatures.

      Yup, it's been designed for those heat ranges. The formulation of the paving changes depending on local climate. Places in the Northest still aren't all caught up to the warmer temps we get in th esummer now. In my area, most of the pavement mixes were designed for max temperatures in the mid 80's. Now that a typical summer is 90's and some times 100's, the old paving mix isn't up to the task. We would get frost heaves in the winter, and mixes that are more flexible at lower temps don't frost heave as much

    • At DFW the airport runways, taxiways, and parking aprons are also very nearly 100% concrete, not asphalt. Concrete is much more expensive, harder to repair, and the expansion joints can be rather murderous. Which is a point the summary left out: a good asphalt surface has fewer joints that can be split open by snow and ice.
  • I hear that temperatures there can be like 50 degrees celsius (or 120 fahrenheit).

  • by Hamsterdan (815291) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:28PM (#40608779)

    Vehicules get stuck in potholes long before asphalt even has a chance to melt

  • by aggles (775392) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:32PM (#40608823)
    The civil engineers around here are replacing any culvert that needs it with the bigger size, so that the increased run-off can be handled without washing out the roads. They assume 500 year events are now 100 year events and 100 year events are 30. 10 year events can happen at any time. Makes sense to me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:34PM (#40608831)

    Stand back! This weather has the weirding way!

  • The average temperature is probably a few degrees higher, if a degree at all. Does insfrastructure have no tolerance at all?!

    • by TrancePhreak (576593) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:43PM (#40608923)
      Quick everybody! buy up some carbon credits to stop this from happening!
  • We're having 114F in Phoenix today, peeps. It's routine this time of year.

    Having aircraft sink into the pavement is no surprise when you're used to feeling the stuff squish under your shoes.

  • I thought all tarmac was asphalt. (the OP states "asphalt tarmac")

    I do have to wonder why this airport chose to use it. I thought most airports used concrete for these surfaces. After all, airplanes are heavy---and have so few points touching the ground. Also,it has been known for years that asphalt gets soft when it heats up. Maybe in Alaska, but near DC---it's just the wrong material, not just now, but before "global warming" was a twinkle in Al Gore's eye.

  • Who cares about climate change. Excessive ecological regulation just harms Legitimate Business Interests, right?

    (In other news, the forecast this week is schadenfreude with localized told-you-so.)

  • by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @07:50PM (#40608965)

    There is a reason that the area around the terminal is made of concrete and there are concrete pads placed at spots where airplanes sit. It is to allow them to stay in one place without sinking. While heat will hasten the effect, a fully loaded large airplane will sink into any tarmac. I ride motorcycles and on hot days my kick stand can dig through most tarmac quite easilly(I carry a small metal plate to spread the load on hot days).

    The idea is to keep moving so one does not sink. Whoever let the heavy aircraft sit on tarmac instead of concrete is to blame for the issue and not the heat. Even on an average day for July I bet the aircraft would have sunk to some degree in three hours.

    The solution to this problem is to not stand for more than a few minutes on tarmac. If the delay is longer, return to the gate or wait on a piece of concrete.

  • We've had a cooler-than-average summer in Anchorage, where I live. Nevertheless, there have been a couple of warm days, and on one of them, the sidestand on my motorcycle melted into the asphalt in my driveway, leaving a one inch deep by one inch wide by two inch long divot :/ However, I wouldn't point to that single incidence as proof that temperatures this summer were warmer than average (since I know they aren't, based upon the fact that I've still got the insulated lining in my motorcycle jacket, and
  • The temperature at which asphalt re-liquifies (for lack of a better conversational term) is based purely on the balance of the ingredients. It can easily be adjusted for a warmer climate. Similarly, a different material with the same property over a wider range is just as easily fabricated.

    On the other side, wider airplane tires would also weigh into the equasion, pardon the pun.

    So don't let this article do what so many FUD-oriented pieces do. Don't let it take a rare occurance, use it to highlight an un

  • Here in Phoenix, Sky Harbor International Airport gets much hotter than that, but we haven't had any issues of airplanes sinking. Some people say the effect of the heat is mitigated because of it being a dry heat, but to the best of my knowledge asphalt doesn't melt easier under high humidity.

  • Yesterday, CDOT closed [thedenverchannel.com] US-24, about the fourth most important highway in Colorado, due to ice 100 ft. down that melted for the first time (since a railroad tunnel was constructed a century ago) and created a sinkhole.

  • by dinther (738910) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:30PM (#40609291) Homepage

    World temperatures increased by a fraction of a degree but here we go, now airports are melting because of it. What an idiot conclusion telling me a lot of the mental state of the author.

    In reality, the aircraft has been in the same spot for far too long. Additionally the consistency of the tarmac material might be sub-standard causing the melting point to be lower. I have seen roads here in New Zealand that had substandard tarmac on them turning to liquid in the hot sun. And New Zealand average temperate is actually dropping over the last decade.

  • by couchslug (175151) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @08:51PM (#40609477)

    "And, crucially, it makes for runway repair work that is relatively efficient. "

    That's a nice way of saying "cheap", be it on runways or roads.

    There's good reason Air Force bases use concrete in the vast majority of cases for runways, ramp, and taxiways.

    Got asphalt "problems"? Dig that cheap shit up and recycle it by crushing (makes terrific residential driveways which stay packed but some foliage can penetrate, I've used it for many years) then man up and pour proper concrete instead.

    There's no nice way to put it.

  • by gstrickler (920733) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @09:01PM (#40609567)

    Paint it white to decrease it's heat absorption.

    Longer term, use a higher temperature mix or switch to concrete like DFW and PHX. Concrete may be less ice tolerant, in which case, a relatively thin layer (~2") asphalt over concrete may be the best option. The concrete provides a solid base and will draw heat off the asphalt, while the asphalt provides an easier to refinish surface that can tolerate snow and ice fairly well.

  • by ukemike (956477) on Tuesday July 10, 2012 @10:46PM (#40610257) Homepage
    The REAL Infrastructure Problems will be preventing the rising seas from inundating Bangladesh, Florida, various Pacific Islands, and the many other low lying parts of our civilization. The real infrastructure problems will be relocating our agriculture once our current breadbaskets begin to fail. The real infrastructure problems will be figuring out how to make our cities capable of withstanding massive flooding and extended droughts, sometimes one right after the other. We've passed the point where we could prevent it, the big challenge now will be surviving it.
  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @12:32AM (#40610829)
    There are other countries in the world that get hotter than 100F and they have airports. Just throwing it out there. Something tells me there's a solution out there somewhere lol.
  • by BlackPignouf (1017012) on Wednesday July 11, 2012 @05:39AM (#40612279)

    The whole civil aviation is doomed to plummet due to oil scarcity.
    Soft tarmac will be the least of its problems.

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