Bridge Frost Prediction by Heat and Mass Transfer Methods

Greenfield, Tina
Takle, Eugene
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Aerospace Engineering
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Ames Laboratory
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Frost on roadways and bridges can present hazardous conditions to motorists, particularly when it occurs in patches or on bridges when adjacent roadways are clear of frost. To minimize materials costs, vehicle corrosion, and negative environmental impacts, frost-suppression chemicals should be applied only when, where, and in the appropriate amounts needed to maintain roadways in a safe condition for motorists. Accurate forecasts of frost onset times, frost intensity, and frost disappearance (e.g., melting or sublimation) are needed to help roadway maintenance personnel decide when, where, and how much frost-suppression chemical to use. A finite-difference algorithm (BridgeT) has been developed that simulates vertical heat transfer in a bridge based on evolving meteorological conditions at its top and bottom as supplied by a weather forecast model. BridgeT simulates bridge temperatures at numerous points within the bridge (including its upper and lower surface) at each time step of the weather forecast model and calculates volume per unit area (i.e., depth) of deposited, melted, or sublimed frost. This model produces forecasts of bridge surface temperature, frost depth, and bridge condition (i.e., dry, wet, icy/snowy). Bridge frost predictions and bridge surface temperature are compared with observed and measured values to assess BridgeT's skill in forecasting bridge frost and associated conditions.


This article is published as Greenfield, Tina M., and Eugene S. Takle. "Bridge frost prediction by heat and mass transfer methods." Journal of applied meteorology and climatology 45, no. 3 (2006): 517-525. DOI:10.1175/JAM2356.1. Posted with permission.