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REPORT
This report is an archived publication and may contain dated technical, contact, and link information
Publication Number:  FHWA-HRT-15-019    Date:  May 2015
Publication Number: FHWA-HRT-15-019
Date: May 2015

 

Evaluation of Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) Climatic Data for Use in Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) Calibration and Other Pavement Analysis

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FOREWORD

This document presents the results of an evaluation of climate data from Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) for use in the Long Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) Program and for other infrastructure applications. MERRA data were compared against the best available ground-based observations both statistically and in terms of effects on pavement performance as predicted using the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG). These analyses included a systematic quantitative evaluation of the sensitivity of MEPDG performance predictions to variations in fundamental climate parameters.

A more extensive analysis of MERRA data included additional statistical analysis comparing operating weather station (OWS) and MERRA data, evaluation of the correctness of MEPDG surface shortwave radiation (SSR) calculations and comparison of MEPDG pavement performance predictions using OWS and MERRA climate data for more sections. The principal conclusion from these evaluations was that the MERRA climate data were as good as and in many cases substantially better than equivalent ground-based OWSs. MERRA is strongly recommended as the new future source for climate data in LTPP. Recommendations are provided for incorporating hourly MERRA data into the LTPP database.

The LTPP program is an ongoing and active program. To obtain current information and access to other technical references, LTPP data users should visit the LTPP Web site at http://www.tfhrc.gov/pavement/ltpp/ltpp.htm. LTPP data requests, technical questions, and data user feedback can be submitted to LTPP customer service via e-mail at ltppinfo@fhwa.dot.gov.

Jorge E. Pagán-Ortiz
Director, Office of Infrastructure
Research and Development

Notice

This document is disseminated under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Transportation in the interest of information exchange. The U.S. Government assumes no liability for the use of the information contained in this document.

The U.S. Government does not endorse products or manufacturers. Trademarks or manufacturers' names appear in this report only because they are considered essential to the objective of the document.

Quality Assurance Statement

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) provides high-quality information to serve Government, industry, and the public in a manner that promotes public understanding. Standards and policies are used to ensure and maximize the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of its information. FHWA periodically reviews quality issues and adjusts its programs and processes to ensure continuous quality improvement.

 

Technical Report Documentation Page

1. Report No.

FHWA-HRT-15-019

2. Government Accession No. 3 Recipient's Catalog No.
4. Title and Subtitle

Evaluation of Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTTP) (LTPP) Climatic Data for Use in Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) Calibration and Other Pavement Analysis

5. Report Date

May 2015

6. Performing Organization Code
7. Author(s)

Rui Li, Beth A. Visintine, Barton Forman, Gonzalo R. Rada, Jonathan L. Groeger

8. Performing Organization Report No.

 

9. Performing Organization Name and Address

AMEC Environment and Infrastructure, Inc.
12000 Indian Creek Court, Suite F
Beltsville, MD 20705-1242

University of Maryland—College Park
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
1173 Glenn L. Martin Hall
College Park, MD 20742

10. Work Unit No. (TRAIS)
11. Contract or Grant No.

DTFH61-11-C-00030

12. Sponsoring Agency Name and Address

Office of Infrastructure Research and Development Federal Highway Administration 6300 Georgetown Pike McLean, VA 22101-2296

13. Type of Report and Period Covered

Final Report, May 2011–October 2014

14. Sponsoring Agency Code

 

15. Supplementary Notes

The Contracting Officer's Representative (COR) was Larry Wiser.

16. Abstract

Improvements in the Long-Term Pavement Performance (LTPP) Program’s climate data are needed to support current and future research into climate effects on pavement materials, design, and performance. The calibration and enhancement of the Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide (MEPDG) is just one example of these emerging needs. A newly emerging climate data source, the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA), developed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for its own in-house modeling needs, provides continuous hourly weather data starting in 1979 on a relatively fine-grained uniform grid. MERRA is based on a reanalysis model that combines computed model fields (e.g., atmospheric temperatures) with ground-, ocean-, atmospheric-, and satellite-based observations that are distributed irregularly in space and time. MERRA data are available at an hourly temporal resolution and 0.5 degrees latitude by 0.67 degrees longitude (approximately 31.1 by 37.30 mi at mid-latitudes) spatial resolution over the entire globe. MERRA data were compared against the best available ground-based observations both statistically and in terms of effects on pavement performance as predicted using the MEPDG. These analyses included a systematic quantitative evaluation of the sensitivity of MEPDG performance predictions to variations in fundamental climate parameters. More extensive analysis of MERRA data included additional statistical analysis comparing operating weather station (OWS) and MERRA data, evaluation of the correctness of MEPDG surface shortwave radiation (SSR) calculations and comparison of MEPDG pavement performance predictions using OWS and MERRA climate data for more sections. The principal conclusion from these evaluations was that the MERRA climate data were as good and in many cases substantially better than equivalent ground-based OWS data. Given these many benefits and very few if any significant limitations, MERRA is strongly recommended as the new future source for climate data in LTPP. Recommendations are provided for incorporating hourly MERRA data into the LTPP database.

17. Key Words

Long-Term Pavement Performance, LTPP, climate data, pavement design, pavement performance, solar radiation, virtual weather stations, Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications, MERRA, Mechanistic Empirical Pavement Design Guide, MEPDG, hourly weather data

18. Distribution Statement

No restrictions. This document is available to the public through the National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161.
http://www.ntis.gov

19. Security Classification
(of this report)

Unclassified

20. Security Classification
(of this page)

Unclassified

21. No. of Pages

138

22. Price
Form DOT F 1700.7 (8-72) Reproduction of completed page authorized

SI* (Modern Metric) Conversion Factors

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of tables

List of Acronyms and Symbols

AADTT Average Annual Daily Truck Traffic  
AASHTO American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials  
AC Asphalt Concrete  
AR Asphalt Concrete Rutting  
ASOS Automated Surface Observing System  
AWS Automated Weather Station  
CCC Canadian Centre for Climate  
CLM Climate module (LTPP environment/climate data module)  
CNCDIA Canadian National Climate Data and Information Archive  
COOP Cooperative Observer Program  
CRCP Continuously Reinforced Concrete Pavement  
DLND Design Limit Normalized Difference  
DST Daylight Savings Time  
EICM Enhanced Integrated Climate Model  
ESS Environmental Sensor Station  
ETG Expert Task Group  
F Faulting  
FAA Federal Aviation Administration  
FHWA Federal Highway Administration  
GEOS-5 Goddard Earth Observation System Version 5  
GOES Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites  
GPS General Pavement Studies  
GPSR Global Position Satellite Receiver  
GSI Grid-Point Statistical Interpolation  
HDF Hierarchical Data Format  
IAU Incremental Analysis Update  
IRI International Roughness Index  
JPCP Jointed Plain Concrete Pavement  
LC Longitudinal Cracking  
LTBP Long-Term Bridge Performance  
LTPP Long-Term Pavement Performance  
MDISC Modeling and Assimilation Data and Information Services Center  
MEPDG Mechanistic-Empirical Pavement Design Guide  
MERRA Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Application  
METAR Météorologique Aviation Régulière  
NASA National Aeronautics and Space Administration  
NCDC National Climate Data Center  
NCHRP National Cooperative Highway Research Program  
NetCDF Network Common Data Format  
NOAA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration  
NSI Normalized Sensitivity Index  
NSRDB National Solar Radiation Data Base  
NWS National Weather Service  
OAT One at a Time  
OWS Operating Weather Station  
PCC Portland Cement Concrete  
PG Performance Grade  
PPDB Pavement Performance Database  
QA Quality Assurance  
QC Quality Control  
QCLCD Quality Controlled Local Climatological Data  
RCC Regional Climatic Center  
RMSE Root Mean Squared Error  
RWIS Road Weather Information System  
SC Slab Cracking  
SDR Standard Data Release  
SIRS Solar Infrared Radiation System  
SMP Seasonal Monitoring Program  
SPS Specific Pavement Studies  
SSR Surface Shortwave Radiation  
TMI Thornthwaite Moisture Index  
TR Total Rutting  
ULCD Unedited Local Climatological Data  
UMD University of Maryland  
USCRN U.S. Climate Research Network  
VWS Virtual Weather Station  

 

 

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