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Section 3: Thermal Mapping

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Predicting freeze zones

Across a roadway system, some sections will be warmer or colder than others. Thermal mapping identifies where these warm and cold sections are going to occur and helps identify areas that are likely to freeze. Thermal maps are influenced by the surrounding physical environment, such as cuts and fills, embankments, urban heat, trees and buildings and the prevailing weather patterns.

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Uses for Thermal Mapping

Thermal maps can be used in several ways, such as:

  • determining the location for ice detection sensors
  • extrapolating temperature trends over a thermal mapped network from a few measured sites
  • aiding in the design of pretreatment routes.

The long term goal of thermal mapping is to establish an ice prediction system which will cover the entire maintenance section.

Thermal Map (Image courtesy APWA Reporter,
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Figure 9-4. Thermal Map (Image courtesy APWA Reporter, the magazine of the American Public Works Association).

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