Improving the climate resilience of the Dempster Highway

The Yukon Government’s Department of Highways and Public Works developed a functional plan with a 25-year outlook for the Dempster Highway that explicitly considers climate change impacts on geohazards as an integrated part of the plan.The Dempster Highway is being affected by climate change-related impacts, including permafrost thaw, flooding, and active layer detachments following extreme precipitation. Snow drifting, washouts due to flooding, retrogressive thaw slumps, culvert failures and subsistence due to the melting of ground ice are key concerns that Highways and Public Works Department is attempting to anticipate and address. Highways and Public Works considered projected changes to hydrology, as well as detailed characterization of permafrost thaw vulnerability, as inputs to their functional plan. This approach builds consideration of climate change directly into a commonly used planning tool and exemplifies an innovative approach to ensuring that a full suite of risks are being considered in maintenance and engineering decisions for the highway.

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