Aemet: We transform the Spanish highways into a sustainable network

Transport infrastructure management is facing new challenges – since climate change is noticeable in Europe: more extreme temperatures, larger thermal oscillations between day and night, increased floodings due to intense rainfall among others. These climatic variables destroy (i.a.) the roads. Our partner AEMET therefore investigates on the effects of adaptation measures within the CLARITY project. The study focuses on the highway network in all of Spain considering 17 different regions and weather conditions of all types.


My Climate Service spoke to Ernesto Rodriguez Camino, who is the project manager for CLARITY and works in the AEMET-headquarter in Madrid. AEMET is the Spanish Meteorological Agency which has more than 150 years of history and is operating under the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. It was founded in 1887 as the "Instituto Central Meteorológico" and has been renamed into AEMET in 2008, now working with 1.200 employees.



MCS: What does AEMET do, Mr. Rodriguez?

“AEMET represents Spain in international meteorological institutions and works on various European projects to achieve a sustainable development. We offer forecasting, early warnings, monitoring, and research. Our focus is on climate change, we analyse severe weather events in Spain, we measure the air pollution and temperature data. Also, we have international co-operation: We are collaborating on a worldwide level with other states, cities, and institutions, trying to help less developed countries such as Latin America or Africa. Last week I was in Montevideo, Uruguay, where I was organizing a training about the generation of climate change scenarios for the Central American and Caribbean meteorological services. This activity is part of the initiatives of the CIHMET ("Conference of Directors of Ibero-American Meteorological and Hydrological Services").


MCS: How do you describe your competences?

“AEMET’s competences include all activities generally carried out by national meteorological service. In particular climate issues, climate change scenarios, numerical weather prediction models, forecasting severe weather events, and a wide network of observations including 15 meteorological radars (covering all of Spain), around one thousand automatic observation stations and a supercomputer where most of the models run operationally several times a day.”


MCS: What is your task in the CLARITY-project?

“We are twelve people dedicated to the CLARITY project in Madrid. Each one works independently on different topics and every second week we come together, talking about the results we made so far. We work closely together with Cedex (civil engineering research agency), Acciona (agency for development and management of infrastructure), Atos (development of geospatial applications) and MeteoGrid. (applied meteorology, weather forecasting, and associated risk management).

Our task is to examine the Spanish road network, especially the highways, to see how big the impact of climate change to the roads is. For example, Acciona needs the data from us to calculate in which parts measures are necessary and how much these tasks would cost them. The tasks are construction, rehabilitation, replacement, and maintenance of the roads until 2026.

We already developed a collection of climate change regionalized scenarios called PNACC (“Plan Nacional de Adaptación al Cambio Climático”). For the marketplace we will deliver a map of Spain, similar to this one, we already made but more detailed and focused on the road-problems.”


MCS: Who is your target group concerning the CLARITY-project?

“We want to address national, regional, and municipal authorities and planners as well as the sectors of energy, environment, construction, and consultancy companies. Together we can foster our goals.”


MCS: What are the main dangers to the roads?

“All extreme weather events mean a danger for the roads. We examine the air temperature, i.e. frost days and heat waves, precipitation which means floods and droughts in its extreme case and the intensity and frequency of fog and wind. As Spain is such a big country, with 17 different regions, we undergo all types of hazards – depending on the season. As you can see, there is not just one solution to these problems, there are many."


MCS: What are the next steps within this project?

“We continue to work on regional simulations in Spain, we are working on a proposal of indicators for climatic risks and we estimate the effects of climate change in the context of a specific transport infrastructure, giving information and suggestions on the most appropriate adaptation and mitigation measures. In two years we want to be able to design new sustainable roads, to elaborate recommendations, and to select the best methods of materials and construction.

In the long run we want to provide expertise on numerical weather prediction models, climate models, and climate downscaling techniques.


Thank you.

City Profile - Madrid

Madrid, with 3.2.Mio inhabintants, is the capital of Spain and the third biggest city of the EU and South Europe. The average temperature in winter is around 7.7 degrees and during the hot summer months around 22 degrees. With about 2,769 hours of sun Madrid is one of the sunniest cities in Europe. Madrid is the industrial centre but it also has a dominant service sector.

Madrid used to be more a centre of consumption than of trade or production after it became the capital of Spain. The economy had to supply Madrid's rapidly growing population. The industrial sector did not develop until the 20th century. In Madrid bullfights still take place regularly, sometimes even a few times a week. 

Personal hint: This city really knows how to live - and you should experience it with some tapas and a "Tinto de Verano" (refreshing red wine with lemon soft drink). If you need a break from the vivid center, go to "Parque del Buen Retiro" ("Park to have a good rest").