Modelling consequences of permafrost degradation for Arctic infrastructure – a case study of the Dalton highway

thomas.schneider [ at ]


The fate of infrastructure in the Arctic and in high altitude regions is heavily depending on the stability of frozen ground which it is built on. Climate change and consequent degradation of permafrost will negatively affect various infrastructure types and can cause ultimate failure. Comprehensive pan-Arctic assessments are urgently needed to better quantify environmental, economic and societal risks and to help adaptation planning. The use of physical models can be a powerful tool for risk evaluation, but modelling challenges remain with respect to resolving construction details at infrastructure scales together with decadal-scale climate change impacts. Here we used the dynamic permafrost land-surface model CryoGrid3 (including a soil subsidence module) to capture both - the effects from the interaction of small-scale infrastructure with permafrost and large-scale climate change effects evolving in the 21st century under an extensive climate warming scenario. We discuss how infrastructure can affect ground temperatures, and how climate change increases the risk of future infrastructure failure. As an exemplary case of permafrost-affected infrastructure failure, we modelled a gravel road on continuous permafrost at Prudhoe Bay (Alaska). We investigate the timing of infrastructure failure from soil subsidence in dependence of assumed embankment thickness and depth of excess ice in the ground.

Item Type
Conference (Invited talk)
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Helmholtz Cross Cutting Activity (2021-2027)
Publication Status
Event Details
2021 Regional Conference on Permafrost, 24 Oct 2021 - 29 Oct 2021, Boulder.
Eprint ID
Cite as
Schneider von Deimling, T. , Ingeman-Nielsen, T. , Lee, H. , trochim, E. and Langer, M. (2021): Modelling consequences of permafrost degradation for Arctic infrastructure – a case study of the Dalton highway , 2021 Regional Conference on Permafrost, Boulder, 24 October 2021 - 29 October 2021 .

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Research Platforms

Arctic Land Expeditions > AK-Land_2018_Deadhorse

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