Publication Date


Date of Final Oral Examination (Defense)


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Science in Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering

Major Advisor

Debakanta Mishra, Ph.D.

Major Advisor

Mojtaba Sadegh, Ph.D.


Bhaskar Chittoori, Ph.D.


Eshan V. Dave, Ph.D.


Climate change is one of the most concerning global issues and has the potential to influence every aspect of human life. Like different components of society, it can impose significant adverse impacts on pavement infrastructure. Although several research efforts have focused on studying the effects of climate change on natural and built systems, its impact on pavement performance has not been studied as extensively. The primary objectives of this thesis research was to quantify the effect of temperature changes on flexible pavement response and performance prediction using the AASHTOWare Pavement ME Design (PMED), and quantify the effects of Local Calibration Factors (LCFs) used by different state highway agencies in the United States on predicted pavement performance. Particular emphasis was given to LCF values used by the Idaho Transportation Department. The climatic data, as well as LCFs corresponding to several different states, were used to identify how different LCF values affect pavement performance prediction. The effects of atmospheric temperature changes on pavement temperature and Asphalt Concrete (AC) layer modulus were studied by analyzing the intermediate files generated by PMED. Finally, the impact of temperature change on AC dynamic modulus (E*) was also analyzed to link the PMED-predicted distresses with asphalt mix properties.

Historical climatic data was obtained from the Modern-Era Retrospective Analysis for Research and Applications (MERRA) database. Projected data considered to simulate the temperature changes in the future were generated by adopting two different approaches: (1) Manual alteration of historical temperature distribution data to represent scenarios with increased mean and standard deviation values; and (2) Use of temperature data projected by established Global Climate Models (GCM). All different climatic scenarios were used in PMED along with a standard pavement section, and the distresses predicted over the design life of the pavement were compared. Simulation results showed consistent increase in Total Pavement rutting and AC rutting with increasing air temperatures. The effect of temperature increase on AC thermal cracking predicted by PMED demonstrated inconsistent trends. In contrast, the projected temperature increase had no significant effect on bottom-up fatigue cracking for the chosen study locations. It was found that the impact of changed air temperatures can be different for pavement sections constructed in different geographic locations. Moreover, the analysis confirmed that the Local Calibration Factors (LCFs) established by different state highway agencies played a major role in governing the effect of future temperature increase on predicted pavement performance. Through an extensive study of the LCFs used in the states of Idaho, Colorado, and Michigan, it was observed that the LCFs in Idaho did not adequately reflect the effects of future temperature changes on predicted pavement performance. Findings from this study emphasize the importance of considering non-stationary climate conditions likely to occur in the future during the process of pavement design. Moreover, this study also highlighted different aspects of the LCFs that play a significant role in capturing the effects of climatic factors on pavement performance predicted by PMED. Based on the findings, it is believed that further fine-tuning of the LCFs used in Idaho may be needed.