Impact on Demand – Number of Days with Temperatures between 0°C and -12 °C

Salt is used for de-icing, mainly to melt existing snow and ice, or to melt remaining snow and ice after snow-removal operations. Salt is also used as anti-icing agent. It is then proactively applied to driving or walking surfaces before expected precipitation of snow or rain and temperatures at or below O°C. Use of de-icing salt is limited to temperatures above -12 °C. Anti-icing helps prevent snow and ice from bonding to the pavement. Three parameters are important for the forecast of road-salt use:

  • Change of the number of snowfall events with a change in climate
  • Change of the number of days with temperatures below 0°C with change of climate.
  • Change of the number of days with temperatures below -12°C with change of climate.

The map shows the change of number of days with temperatures at or below 0°C according to the Climate Impact Lab. The historical reference period extends over the years 1986 – 2005, the forecast period includes the years 2020 -2039, at moderate emissions, and with a medium probability. In this best-case scenario, the number of days with temperatures at or below 0°C will be between 5- and 28 days less than in the historical period. 

There should be no doubt that this will markedly reduce the consumption of de-icing salt. The second effect is relevant for regions and days with winter temperatures below 12°C. With global warming, the number of these days also decreases. -12°C is the lower end of the temperature range where salt can be used efficiently for de-icing. As was shown in the previous blog at the example of Gothenburg region in Sweden, this effect increases the number of days where salt is used, and accordingly leads to an increase of salt consumption. The additional volumes of salt that are used as a result of an increasing number of days with temperatures above -12 °C are much lower than the lost volumes resulting from the lower number of days with temperatures below 0°C. Overall, North American and European consumption of de-icing salt are expected to decline in the next decades with climate change and increasing temperatures.   


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