What spatial resolution do we need for a route-based road weather decision support system?

Lee Chapman, John Thornes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Since their implementation, road weather information systems have mostly relied on point measurements from outstations to initiate and verify daily forecasts. Initially, spatial extrapolation was achieved by thermal mapping, but this is gradually being replaced by route-based forecasting techniques. Both techniques are similar in the sense that they use a point measurement, often taken from an outstation, to provide a spatial forecast of road surface temperatures around the road network at varying resolutions. A substantial research effort has been undertaken to understand and model the complex environmental conditions and mechanisms responsible for the variation in road surface temperatures around the road network. In particular, the interaction of varying geographical parameters around the road network (e.g. altitude, land use, road construction, topography, etc.) has been used to develop local climatological models and route-based forecasting products. By considering the needs of winter maintenance engineers, this paper reviews the current state of the art and takes a critical look at the embedding of forecast products into decision support systems. This is achieved by considering a case study of how road surface temperature and condition vary across the width of a road profile, instead of just lengthways along a road. It is shown that temperature and condition both vary significantly across the profile, which immediately raises questions about the validity of current surveying and modelling practices. This has implications for both the resolution of route-based forecasting products as well as user confidence in automated decision support systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)551-559
Number of pages9
JournalTheoretical and Applied Climatology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2011


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