A changed climate will result in more extreme weather, and these extreme conditions will have an attritional effect on the infrastructure. The changing climate leads to changes in the risks of cloudbursts, landslips and landslides, and changes in the conditions for ground frost and groundwater. Longer periods of drought can be expected. Roads, railways and runways must be able to withstand variations in the climate.
Rain and snow
As more, and more intensive, rain is expected in Sweden in the future, there may also be an increase in road accidents as a result. To reduce the risk of this type of accident, it is important that new infrastructure is adapted so as to be able to divert large amounts of water from road surfaces. The maintenance of existing facilities is also important in order to ensure the infrastructure is kept in good condition. It is therefore important to conduct regular inspections of culverts, drains and pipes involved in the diversion of rain and meltwater.
Fallen trees can cause disruption to traffic. Problems with fallen trees are often connected to storms. As changes take place in groundwater levels, soil moisture and precipitation patterns, trees will become more prone to falling in strong winds. Such changes are also expected in the climate of the future.
Changes to the climate will lead to a greater risk of landslips and landslides. This could especially affect roads that pass close to sloping land and hillsides. Large areas of road may disappear in the event of landslides, or roads could be blocked by fallen boulders and stones.
Water levels in seas, lakes and waterways
With a warmer climate, sea levels will rise. Ports, and sometimes airfields, are often situated in areas that are particularly exposed to high water levels. The road network will also be affected by rising sea levels. The flooding of low-lying roads and bridges may lead to them becoming unusable for certain periods of time – both in the short and the long term. Some bridges are currently relatively low-lying and may need to be rebuilt in order to avoid being submerged by floods.
With regard to shipping, changes to the ice conditions around Sweden’s coasts will be significant and will affect the need for ice-breaking capacity. The duration of the ice winter will become shorter, and the geographic extent of the ice is reducing. Since the variations from year to year will be great in the future, there may be harsh ice winters, even if these are fewer in number.
Freezing conditions also impact air traffic by exposing technological equipment to more wear. Changes to the conditions of ice and ground frost will also affect the asphalt on runways and queueing areas. This might also lead to more need of de-icing of aircraft and runways.
Increased need for maintenance
The effects of the changed climate will be different in different areas of the country. Southern Sweden may experience a reduced need for snow clearance, sanding and salting, whilst the opposite could apply to northern Sweden. The increased number of zero-crossings (instances when the temperature passes 0°C) could cause damage to asphalted surfaces due to frost-weathering.