Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A New Tool to Help Keep Roads Ice- and Snow-Free

27.01.2003


Testing Begins This Winter


Plowing and other winter-weather road treatment should become more efficient and effective through the MDSS system. (Photo courtesy UCAR/NCAR/NSF.)



The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) are testing a Web-based system for weather forecasting and winter road treatment that could soon save lives, cut costs, and help keep millions of drivers on the move. Highway officials and road crews in Des Moines and Ames, Iowa, will test the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS) February 3 to April 4.

Motor vehicle accidents involving bad weather (largely ice and snow) claim the lives of more than 6,000 Americans and injure almost half a million people each year. Nearly half of the nation’s state transportation departments have already signed on as stakeholders in the MDSS (see "On the Web" below), along with more than a dozen private firms. The latter are considering developing products and services around the core capabilities of the system.


The MDSS will help agencies better gauge where and when to use road treatments. This means providing more than a generic outlook such as "snow likely tonight," according to NCAR scientist William Mahoney, who is overseeing the development of the MDSS. "We need forecasts that are more specific, more timely, and tailored for decision makers who are not meteorologists."

Currently there is no national standard for linking weather outlooks to road conditions. Pavement can freeze or thaw in minutes over small areas, and it’s difficult for road crews to handle all of these variations efficiently. The FHWA launched an initiative to address these and other weather-related hazards in 2000, choosing NCAR as the project leader because of its experience in developing short-range, fine-scale computer models and decision support tools.

To develop a prototype, NCAR has been working with the U.S. Army’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Forecast Systems Laboratory, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory. The end result pulls together existing road and weather data to create a user-friendly picture.

The MDSS uses several computer models to project hour-by-hour weather and road conditions up to two days in advance, with an update every three hours. The system will allow its users to

  • view predicted weather and road conditions
  • monitor the potential for deteriorating road conditions
  • predict the impact of upcoming weather on specific road segments
  • assess treatment recommendations based on proven rules of practice
  • devise a plan for anti-icing, deicing, plowing, or other road treatment

In short, says Mahoney, "Users can pick a route, look at conditions, see what would happen if they didn’t take any action, and ask the system for a recommended treatment." According to FHWA administrator Mary Peters, "Having access to proper weather and road condition information before and during adverse winter weather conditions will help transportation system managers take appropriate measures to make keep roads open. MDSS will help make roads safer." The system is also expected to save money and help the environment by fine-tuning the amount of chemicals needed to treat roads. In addition, it will help state agencies identify windows of good weather for highway repair and maintenance.

Three state-run maintenance garages serving highways across central Iowa will put MDSS through its paces this winter. Each plowing route’s predominant characteristics, such as pavement type, will be specified in advance. With such detail in hand, the system can assess how temperature combined with snow or ice will affect the road surface. Ultimately, users will be able to ask the system to track features as specific as a single bridge paved in concrete along an asphalt road. Using the MDSS display interface and an Internet connection, anyone interested will be able to view a portion of the real-time displays being used in the Iowa simulations.

Contact:

Anatta
UCAR Communications
Telephone: (303) 497-8604
E-mail: anatta@ucar.edu

Bill Outlaw
Federal Highway Administration
Telephone: (202) 366-0660
E-mail: William.Outlaw@fhwa.dot.gov

Bob Henson | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.ucar.edu/communications/newsreleases/2003/mdss.html

More articles from Transportation and Logistics:

nachricht Study sets new distance record for medical drone transport
13.09.2017 | Johns Hopkins Medicine

nachricht Researchers 'count cars' -- literally -- to find a better way to control heavy traffic
10.08.2017 | Florida Atlantic University

All articles from Transportation and Logistics >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Developing reliable quantum computers

International research team makes important step on the path to solving certification problems

Quantum computers may one day solve algorithmic problems which even the biggest supercomputers today can’t manage. But how do you test a quantum computer to...

Im Focus: In best circles: First integrated circuit from self-assembled polymer

For the first time, a team of researchers at the Max-Planck Institute (MPI) for Polymer Research in Mainz, Germany, has succeeded in making an integrated circuit (IC) from just a monolayer of a semiconducting polymer via a bottom-up, self-assembly approach.

In the self-assembly process, the semiconducting polymer arranges itself into an ordered monolayer in a transistor. The transistors are binary switches used...

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stiffness matters

22.02.2018 | Life Sciences

Magnetic field traces gas and dust swirling around supermassive black hole

22.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

First evidence of surprising ocean warming around Galápagos corals

22.02.2018 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>