New heated airport runway concept may sharply bias 'global warming' signal in the global climate monitoring network

Recent winter-weather related airport delays have become something that airport managers and airline executive want to solve. This story from NBC’s today show back in January 2018 highlights the issue and a potential solution:

Could heated airport runways melt away your winter travel headaches?

There have been thousands of flight delays and cancellations due to winter weather this year, and it’s only January. Not only that: snow and ice at airports can send planes skidding off slippery runways.

What if there were something that could fix all that? At Des Moines International Airport in Iowa, TODAY national investigative correspondent Jeff Rossen got a look at a new technology in action: heated runways and tarmacs.

Jeff Rossen at (chilly) Des Moines International Airport. Note the melted patch he is standing on.

“We have stainless steel electrodes embedded within the concrete,” explained Halil Ceylan, head researcher of the Iowa State University team that developed the technology. “Then we connect it to power, turn the electricity on. It generates heat and it melts ice and snow on it.”

When Rossen tossed snow onto a slab of prototype heated runway, it melted into water in seconds. A thermal gun showed the heated pavement to have a temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit, in contrast to 22 degrees for unheated pavement nearby.

Full story here

Here is the research:

Self-Heating Electrically Conductive Concrete Demonstration Project

About the research

Highway agency staff are always in search of innovative, implementable, and cost-effective solutions to address their winter pavement maintenance issues and challenges. Considering the economic implications of even partially shut-down bridges, roadways, and highways due to ice/snow, combined with the negative impacts of applying deicing salts to pavement surfaces during snow and ice events, there is a critical need for an alternative ice and snow removal technology that is dependable, fast, and cost-effective, and has minimal impact on the environment.

Recent research studies have tried to address this need through the development of mechanical material modification and thermal- and electrical-based technologies. Among these, the development of so-called self-heating concrete surfaces, by enabling the concrete to be electrically conductive, has gained attention with potential applications for driveways, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, city and county roads, state highways, and airport pavements.

Through a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)/PEGASAS-sponsored research grant, the Institute for Transportation’s Program for Sustainable Pavement Engineering and Research (PROSPER) team at Iowa State University has demonstrated the potential for developing and implementing cost-effective, best-performance electrically conductive concrete (ECON) by adding conductive materials to normal concrete. Their ECON research is at a stage where it can be further expanded and demonstrated on a full-scale basis through a field demonstration project.

Using a smartphone to open an app and call up remote controls, ECON concrete slab stays dry and ice-free during snow event at the Des Moines International Airport in December 2016

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) maintains thousands of linear miles of roadway and several properties across Iowa including roadways, roadway shoulders, maintenance shops, and rest stop areas. The versatility of the ECON technology is such that it can be custom-designed and optimized for each specific transportation infrastructure application, including sidewalks, driveways, bridges, city and county roads, and state DOT maintained rest areas, visitor centers, and state and interstate highways, depending on the need and interest.

A thermal image of the heated airport pavements.

This versatility stems from the fact that the ECON technology is typically implemented as a conductive concrete overlay on top of the existing structure. The ECON design requirements and considerations are obviously somewhat different for each specific application warranting detailed research investigation before implementation in each situation.

For instance, implementing ECON technology in bridges requires that the design take into account the potential for corrosion of steel reinforcement, availability of a low-cost energy source (ideally geothermal energy) to power the ECON system, finding the optimal location for placing the electrodes, etc. On the other hand, ECON implementation in sidewalks has slightly different requirements, as reinforcement is rarely used in sidewalks.

In going forward with this full-scale demonstration of ECON technology for Iowa transportation infrastructure, the research team will work with the project technical advisory committee (TAC) in identifying a suitable location (ideally an upcoming construction project by the city, county, or the Iowa DOT) for field demonstration. One such site of interest to the Iowa DOT is near I-80 Eastbound in Council Bluffs, on the shoulders. There has also been interest in implementing this technology in rest areas and Iowa bridge systems.

The primary objective of this research is to do a full-scale field demonstration of the ECON technology and its efficient deicing benefits for Iowa city and county roadways and state highways. Expected benefits from this research include the following:

  • A cost-effective methodology for producing electrically conductive concrete for Iowa pavement snow and ice removal application
  • An understanding of electrically conductive concrete at different scales (cement paste, mortar, and concrete) and their properties
  • Detailed insights into the challenges and issues faced during the full-scale construction of electrically conductive concrete

Related publication: Iowa State engineers test heated pavement technology at Des Moines International Airport Mar 2017

Sounds great right?

For air travel it most certainly is, for climate science, not so much. Here’s why this project may have unintended and potentially climatic consequences.

A good portion of the world’s surface air temperature is measured at airports, because in those cases, weather conditions are of primary importance. Because so much importance is placed on accurate and up to date weather information, the weather stations are placed near the runways, because pilots want the conditions at the the runway, not something that doesn’t reflect the landing and takeoff conditions.

Automated Weather Observation System at the Basra, Iraq airport. Image from AllWeather Inc. the contractor for the installation.
Locations of airports using ASOS in the USA.

A good portion of the GHCN (Global Historical Climatology Network) is made up of airport ASOS and AWOS stations, which were co-opted for climate monitoring use. This was NEVER their original mission, and these station are setup right next to runways, because they were designed for reporting aviation weather right at the runway, but not for climate monitoring.

So it stands to reason, that if heated runways become a common thing, we’ll find that the “climate signal” from these stations will likely be biased upwards in the wintertime, due to all that waste heat from the heated runways nearby. And THAT will influence the global climate data in GHCN if the upwardly biased data is allowed to stand.

This will add to the already existing problems of ASOS stations reporting high in the summer, such as what we’ve already seen at ASOS equipped airports in Reno, Tucson, and Honolulu.

(Added) And, if Des Moines becomes the first test airport for large-scale heated runways and tarmac, look where they’ll be measuring the temperature there – right in the middle of a sea of concrete:

Des Moines International airport ASOS location. Image from Google Earth. Reference:,-93.65283,769m/data=!3m1!1e3

It will certainly be an excellent example of the law of unintended consequences if airport runways become heated worldwide.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 23, 2018 12:45 pm

Not too difficult. Build a powerplant beside the airport & run the condenser cooling-water thru piping under the tarmac instead of a cooling tower.

Reply to  beng135
February 23, 2018 12:49 pm

That doesn’t address any temp-measurement issue, but airports shouldn’t be used for historical temps anyways.

Rhoda R
Reply to  beng135
February 23, 2018 2:10 pm

That really is the bottom line take-away. Do whatever you need to keep the runways safe but don’t take weather measurements there.

Bryan A
Reply to  beng135
February 23, 2018 2:16 pm

Prior to running the heating mechanism, set up a series of temperature monitoring stations at varying distances from the Tarmac surface that have been synchronized with the main station, then not only could you determine a minimum safe distance for the station to be relocated form these operations but also the amount of potential influence at other locations prior to installation. This way, airports could maintain their needed weather stations at their current locations and official climate monitoring locations could be relocated the appropriate distance from the heated surfaces. If in the process a suitable location is found that happens to have a slightly lower reading than the existing Coop, then you could also determine any amount of bias introduced by the airport facilities to the existing recording site.

Reply to  beng135
February 23, 2018 1:24 pm

I can think of several reasons not to build a power plant near a runway.
While the article does not mention how much energy is needed it likely to small and infrequent to be economical from a power plant.
The reason the energy rejected from the condenser of a power plant is not used for heating is that it takes more electricity to pump warm water than recovered.

Bryan A
Reply to  Retired Kit P
February 23, 2018 2:24 pm

The surface should also be permeable

Reply to  Retired Kit P
February 23, 2018 2:36 pm

The smoke stacks for fossil fuel plants, and cooling towers for all power plants could create turbulent air that pilots would not like to fly through.
Especially really close to the ground.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
February 23, 2018 2:50 pm

@ Bryan. Goodness – if the sub-grade under the pavement is expansive – like clay soils – it will loose all structural integrity.

Reply to  Retired Kit P
February 24, 2018 8:17 am

I would imagine that steam from the cooling towers would not be popular with pilots if it regularly blew across the runways.

February 23, 2018 12:47 pm

Go for it. The public and biased press won’t know the difference and some extra warmth is going to be needed to offset natural climate cycles with cooling from the AMO and other shorter cycles stacking up over he next few years and decades.

February 23, 2018 12:51 pm

If it wasn’t for the Global Weirding caused by all the CO2 we wouldn’t need the heated concrete in the first place.

M Courtney
Reply to  chadb
February 23, 2018 1:16 pm

And if it weren’t for all that concrete we wouldn’t have all that CO2 either.
It’s a Weirding and back again.

Grant K.
Reply to  chadb
February 23, 2018 5:59 pm

Co2 isn’t included in calculated global atmospheric temperature.
So much for your public school education

Bob Burban
February 23, 2018 12:51 pm

Any thought given to the various critters that will be attracted to the nice warm platform amid the snow and ice?

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Bob Burban
February 23, 2018 1:20 pm

Seagulls, lots and lots of Seagulls

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
February 23, 2018 1:48 pm

Can you say “bird strike”? Sure you can.

Bryan A
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
February 23, 2018 2:19 pm

Skunks, Kitty Cats, Prarie Doggies, Badgers, Raccoons, Snakes…
So many things prefer it to be a little warmer over being a little colder

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
February 23, 2018 8:53 pm

May even get the kitty cats off the hood of my car.

Reply to  Bob Burban
February 23, 2018 3:56 pm

Not to overlook insects and amphibians; then we can discuss the burrowing critters that will set up shop underneath.
Dense insect swarms would sure make landing slippery.
Then after this technology hits open use, the real ambulance chasers will blame every accident on pavement anywhere as caused by property owner’s failure to install safety equipment.

Reply to  Bob Burban
February 24, 2018 12:12 am

Those critters will be dancing merrily as their feet tingle from the high voltage on the conductive concrete.

February 23, 2018 12:56 pm

I looked into drilling holes like they used for heat pumps, and then just running antifreeze through the system, wouldn’t need any heating system, just running the pump. But I figured I’d need $12-$15 k worth of drilling for 50′ of driveway, and about a 8 or so car sized pad. If you started building airport runways like this, tools could be made to make that process much more automated to reduce costs.

Reply to  micro6500
February 23, 2018 1:07 pm

Maintenance is a bigger issue for geothermal. Anytime there is a problem you have to dig up and replace pipes. Pipes that are by design put in ground that is going through a freeze/thaw cycle. The concrete doesn’t need any pipes. Since the conductive elements are added to the bulk material (if I am understanding correctly) all you need to do is hook up a positive and negative terminal. If there is a problem just run a new wire.

Reply to  chadb
February 23, 2018 1:16 pm

Heat pumps seem to survive thermal cycles, and yes they’d need to be engineered appropriately.

Reply to  chadb
February 23, 2018 2:38 pm

My first thought was that thermal cycling was going to create stresses on the concrete.
Then I remembered that this warming is a small fraction of what the summer sun can do.

Reply to  micro6500
February 23, 2018 1:34 pm

Spent nuclear fuel rods buried beneath the pavement.
Plus the added safety measure of the glow from the Cerenkov radiation at night.

Reply to  Yirgach
February 23, 2018 2:02 pm

Spent nuclear fuel rods buried beneath the pavement.

I’ll take 2(rods) LOL

Reply to  micro6500
February 23, 2018 2:25 pm

Meh…spent fuel rods look more benign:
Spent Fuel Pool
Note, I’m not saying they’re benign…just that they look more so, especially after cooling off for a couple of years.

Reply to  ripshin
February 23, 2018 5:07 pm

Lol, I had to do some work on the effect of nuclear weapons radiation on electronics in a prior life.
The take away, is if a bomb goes off, and you’re not vaporized, or have a building fall on you, you likely didn’t get a lethal prompt dose.
And just need to keep clear if the fall out. The longer you can go say inside, greatly reduces how hot the nasty stuff is, and a sheet of paper will block the majority of the radiation.
I don’t remember how long is enough, but any amount is better than none (a Month or two would be a great minimum iirc), as long as you keep it off your skin, and don’t ingest it.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Yirgach
February 23, 2018 9:03 pm

I’m not sure you’d get Cerenkov radiation, since it comes from radiation particles dumping energy to slow down to the speed of light in water. I guess you’d have to know the speed of light thru concrete.

Reply to  Yirgach
February 24, 2018 5:30 am

You need 7 feet of water for shielding when removing fuel rods from a reactor 24 hours after shutdown. Decay heat is less than 1% within a short time and continues to decrease.
The problem with using radioactive material as an energy source is that it decays away and stops being a heat source. There are not enough spent fuel rods in the world to keep one runway above freezing.

Reply to  Yirgach
February 24, 2018 6:30 am

Good one Yirgach. I like it. Put those spent rods to work…..

steven F
Reply to  micro6500
February 23, 2018 9:52 pm

Heated drive ways are done in some cases but most of the time they don’t drill holes and run pipes. Instead of pipes they use heater wires that only produce a few watts of heater per foot. It is snaked back and forth over the drive ways and then sealed under an new top layer. This heats up the drive way just enough to melt the snow in a few hours. In some cases the heater wires only placed where the wheals of the car typically are. This saves on installation and energy costs. Once the snow is partially melted and the sun comes out the solar heating will accelerate the melting of any remaining show.
A liquid system would be more efficient but it is best done before the driveway is installed to keep installation cost down.
I have even seen this at train station to keep the passenger walkways clear. Another way to do this at a lower cost is to used a heated matt. Simply place the matt on the driveway and plug it in. These systems can run on utility power or solar. You can even used heater wire to melt snow on the solar panels. Even when covered in snow some light gets through the snow and will be converted to some power. which would help heat the panels a little faster and once a small patch of sow is cleared the power output will start to increase exponentially. Once the panels are clear the energy can be sent to the driveway or walkway heater.

Reply to  steven F
February 24, 2018 10:05 am

I saw a news report that someone did this the walk in front of their business.
We have asphalt, am familiar with the solar component of melting. But we’d talked about concrete, and I was like that would be cool!
Those are some good ideas about solar to power the wires.

February 23, 2018 12:57 pm

I would imagine that airports would have cooled down when they were closed due to weather.
Fewer jet engines blowing hot air on the sensors and all that.
If this technology does “take off”, then there will be fewer days in which airports have to shut down.

Reply to  MarkW
February 23, 2018 1:10 pm

…but you can’t step on it ((look at the picture))

Reply to  Latitude
February 24, 2018 8:21 am

I would imagine that in the picture above, they are running tests so they don’t want people walking on their experiment.
I can’t runways and taxiways that can’t be used don’t strike me as being overly useful.

February 23, 2018 1:08 pm

What’s the carbon footprint of a warming tarmac footprint placed because of the cold caused by global warming?
I’m sure there will be many Weather Channel, NYT, and HuffPo explanations for the masses.

Mark from the Midwest
February 23, 2018 1:09 pm

Kind of reminds me of the old weather station at Chicago Midway, when they improved the taxi-ways a few years ago the station ended up right in the path of jet exhaust at a turn-off.
“Today’s high was 317 C”

Reply to  Mark from the Midwest
February 23, 2018 3:13 pm

That was very close to a ‘two-monitor guffaw’!

February 23, 2018 1:14 pm

“It will certainly be an excellent example of the law of unintended consequences if airport runways become heated worldwide.”
Looks more like case of large benefit from using energy and a manufactured insignificant, if any, consequence.
An example of unintended consequences is California Title 24 to reduce energy used in houses resulting indoor air quality issues.

February 23, 2018 1:16 pm

Heated runways are fine and most probably will cause a warming single in the data. Of course that is no different than the urban heat island effect. Appreciate however that this winter one of the biggest problems with flying has been icing on the aircraft itself not just skidding off the runway due to ice. Many airports/ airline just did not stock enough deicing fluid. I guess because they believed global warming would negate the need.

John M
February 23, 2018 1:22 pm

“…if heated runways become a common thing, we’ll find that the “climate signal” from these stations will likely be biased upwards in the wintertime, due to all that waste heat from the heated runways nearby. ”
A feature, not a bug.

Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
February 23, 2018 1:23 pm

So it stands to reason, that if heated runways become a common thing, we’ll find that the “climate signal” from these stations will likely be biased upwards in the wintertime, due to all that waste heat from the heated runways nearby. And THAT will influence the global climate data in GHCN if the upwardly biased data is allowed to stand.

Even worse, the power consumed to keep runways clear will increase carbon emissions and accelerate global warming.
Oh, wait. I have a great idea! Erect a bunch of 6MW, 175 meter wind turbines around airports so they can keep their runways clear using non GHG-emitting renewable power.

Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
February 23, 2018 2:40 pm

Gives a whole new meaning to bird chopper.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Alan Watt, Climate Denialist Level 7
February 23, 2018 9:07 pm

Or you could install a whole bunch of computers under the concrete and use the heat generated from mining Bitcoins.

February 23, 2018 1:24 pm

I thought that global warming would have taken care of the problem by now.

Ian W
Reply to  texasjimbrock
February 23, 2018 2:23 pm

According to Dr Viner you are right, surely the problem should be cooling runways as most of them are largely tarmac not concrete and with all that global warming and downwelling radiation the tarmac will be running into the drains….

February 23, 2018 1:29 pm

Warmistas will be falling over each other to sponsor the installation of Tarmac Warming systems as this will be the final solution to falling Global temperatures as hot tarmacs heat up the thermometers on hundreds of airport weather stations. There will be no further need for temperature ‘adjustments’, temperatures will adjust themselves.

February 23, 2018 1:48 pm

Feature, not a bug.

February 23, 2018 1:52 pm

And how much energy would a 4,000m runway consume?
In addition, how easy would it be to fix, if it went wrong? Most runways operate 24/7, and in the UK we have many single runway airports. Shutting runways down every ten or twenty years for resurfacing is a major headache, let alone closing them for heating repairs too.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  ralfellis
February 23, 2018 2:28 pm

I’m glad you asked. See more below from Iowa State.
Power consumption is 333 watts/square meter. Heathrow’s “Facts and Figures” gives the Northern runway as 3,902 meters x 50 meters and the Southern runway as 3,658 meters by 50 meters. Total runway area is 378,000 square meters. This doesn’t count taxiways and aprons which are probably at least as much again if not more, so say 756,000 square meters. Total power draw then is 756,000 x 333 or 251,748,000 watts, or 252 MW, rounded. If you had to run that for 10 hours during a snow event, that would be 2,520 MW-hr of electricity consumed. At a cost in the US of $0.10/kW-hr (consumer rates), or $100/MW-hr that would be $252,000. As a bulk consumer of electricity the airport probably can get a better rate, or at least it could in the U.S.
Heathrow’s revenues are approximately £8 million per day, or about $11.2 million at today’s exchange rate. So, melting that snow would represent 2.25% of operating revenue. On operating cost alone, if it keeps the airport open for one additional day per year the ROI is 4,444%. No, I didn’t make a mistake and put a comma for a period.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 23, 2018 3:18 pm

There is a huge difference between airports. One of my former bosses was made acting manager of a major international airport. It was eye opening. When he came back, he reported: “There’s no way that airport can lose money.” As with Heathrow, you can do some crazy stuff to keep the runways open. (You can land with zero ceiling and zero visibility. The emergency vehicles won’t be able to find you if you crash though, so there are limits.)
Contrast that with most other airports. There are some places where it’s hard to get adequate de-icing equipment. Most airports, that’s the best you can hope for. Anyway, most of the time other methods are sufficient.
If you’ve got planes landing every three minutes then you don’t want snow clearing equipment on the runways. For those few airports, heated runways might make sense.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 24, 2018 3:26 am

‘Power consumption is 333 watts/square meter’
That can melt an inch of snow in an hour. You’d not run it at full steam all the time.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 26, 2018 10:37 am

Maybe, maybe not. Power dissipation is going to be a function of applied voltage and resistivity of the concrete. For a fixed voltage you are going to have a fixed power dissipation. Varying the voltage can be done, but it’s a little klugey. Perhaps a pulse width modulation scheme could be employed. In any event, I didn’t see anything in the article suggesting that the power output could/would be modulated.

Rob Dawg
February 23, 2018 2:10 pm

Keep in mind that airports are specifically sited to be places more likely to avoid freezing conditions. The bias starts long before the first airfield measurement.

Mike McMillan
Reply to  Rob Dawg
February 23, 2018 9:15 pm

Now where did you hear that?

Reply to  Rob Dawg
February 24, 2018 1:31 am

Not in the UK, they are not.
They are simply old RAF airfields, lcated anywhere.

February 23, 2018 2:16 pm

This technology was developed to be used in congested areas like aprons. Heating runways might not be practical because they are subjected to thrust and high temperature that may damage the pavement.

February 23, 2018 2:17 pm

I recognize the idea from our town. The politicians actually thougt they would save money by heating the square instead of plowing it. The square was heated one winter, now they plowing it. Turned out to be way more expensive than said and totally meaningless. Cooling water (considered free) are actually used to heat buildings in the winter but they missed that obvious detail.

Bruce Cobb
February 23, 2018 2:19 pm

My guess is, once they run the numbers on this it will be done on a massive scale. Massively small, that is.

February 23, 2018 2:26 pm

Silly idea, not just for messing with vital runway flight condition information. The disruption and cost of replacing existing runways, months in duration each, far exceeds any saving from avoiding occasional snow driven flight disruptions. The new second parallel runway at FLL took two years to construct. The additional fourth runway at ORD has taken at least three and still isn’t finished—but then, those are Chicago contracts.
ORD has an interesting gate area snow removal solution. Big plows clear and pile. Rubber wheeled front loaders scoop the pile and dump into giant propane fired melters placed over special gate area drains. Snow melts and water drains away. Whole thing takes maybe 1-2 hours and only ties up a few gates. The old practice of carting the piles to far ends of the airport in dump trucks no longer worked; all the far ends of ORD are occupied by maintenance hangers and air freight logistics warehouses now.
Separate observation. Stainless steel is a very inefficient resistance heater as is fairly conductive. Traditional efficient Joule (resistive) heating element is a calrod, nichrome wires or ribbons stuffed into a stainless tube. Invented by GE. But would get too hot and damage the concrete. CHicagoland sidewalk heaters use copper nickel based thick wires to provide low temperature heat. Less electrically efficient, but still cheaper for downtown merchants than hiring downtown snow removal for the few times per year needed. Practice was started by Marshall Fields of department store fame, whose resulting wealth enabled the Field Museum of Natural History where Sue the Trex resides. Sue replaced the brontosaurus in the Great Hall. The Brontosaurus now resides in Terminal 1 (United) at ORD. Fun Chicago facts.

D. J. Hawkins
Reply to  ristvan
February 23, 2018 2:40 pm

See my post above re costs. It looks like the new runway cost $514 million, per Wiki. I don’t know what the delta on the conductive concrete cost would be, but the conductive mix would only be the top 6″ of the 30″ slab.
They are not using the s/s rods to heat the concrete, but to bring power to the carbon fiber matrix.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 24, 2018 3:30 am

It’s an investment, not silly at all.

February 23, 2018 3:38 pm

Ian W February 23, 2018 at 2:23 pm almost got it right. The rest of you are upside down. My brother worked as a test pilot for some time at an airfield somewhere north of Whoop-Whoop in northern Canada. In winter, a plane was flying in from San Diego, or somewhere with reasonable temperatures. The incoming pilot asked “Is the runway clear of snow?”
All the test pilots and control tower staff fell about laughing. The runway was made of snow. At low temperatures it has excellent friction characteristics. My brother took his car out on the runway to test drive the braking characteristics. Got up to a decent speed, put his foot on the brake pedal and only the seat belt stopped him going through the windscreen.
Proper action with these snow affected runways is to add cooling pipes next time the runway is resurfaced. Keep the temperatures way down, no problem with loss of friction.
Incidentally, Gatwick has only one runway – was completely rebuilt and resurfaced without being shut down, remained in operation 24/7.
If you don’t want to go the ‘cold’ way, suggest you resurrect FIDO. That worked very well.

February 23, 2018 4:40 pm

“A good portion of the world’s surface air temperature is measured at airports, because in those cases, weather conditions are of primary importance. Because so much importance is placed on accurate and up to date weather information, the weather stations are placed near the runways, because pilots want the conditions at the the runway, not something that doesn’t reflect the landing and takeoff conditions”
Actually if you look at all the stations ( there are over 40K) you’ll find that the distance to the closest runway is a not a problem. The proportion of stations by airports is not substantial and there is no measureable difference between airport and non airport stations: If you just focus on the US or GHCN YMMV. gotta look at all the data.
Seems shocking I know:
But the good thing is this: if they do warm the runways, and if it does have an impact, the difference will be clear when compared with the stations not at airports. and the warm tarmac argument will be forgotton like the fading paint argument

Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 23, 2018 8:23 pm

The proportion of stations by airports is not substantial and there is no measureable difference between airport and non airport stations:

Which must be why the local international airport is almost always the warmest of all the local surface stations within about 30 miles.

Steve Keohane
Reply to  Steven Mosher
February 24, 2018 7:32 am

Just like your nonsense about UHI.

February 23, 2018 5:21 pm

Find a way to keep, the aircraft on the ground and the ground-support equipment, ice-free.
A quick spray and on your way.
Maybe could be part of a system to protect Rampies from electrical storms,
line-ups for deicing in winter and gates in summer after a red-alert

Reply to  clipe
February 23, 2018 5:39 pm

Apologies. I have difficulty differentiating between a comma and a smudge.

Michael Darby
February 23, 2018 8:08 pm

Heating runways is fine so long as it is done with electricity generated by solar panels. This is no more crazy than the Government of Western Australia deliberately reducing available fresh water for Perth by banning clearing of catchment areas, then replacing the lost water by desalinating sea water using electricity generated by windmills and solar panels. For snow-bound airports, if necessary, diesel engines can operate to power lights which shine on the solar panels. Think of the employment opportunities in sweeping the snow off the solar panels. The diesel engines can run on bio-diesel which can be produced from used cooking oil (a commodity currently trading around US$380 per tonne). Do I understand the Obama administration ordered the US military to maximise use of bio-diesel? Has this been reversed by the Freedom Government?

February 23, 2018 8:31 pm

Just to get this straight –
As the earth warms,
We now need heated airport runways
Where we didn’t need them before?

Reply to  ptolemy2
February 24, 2018 1:32 am


David Chappell
February 23, 2018 8:59 pm

As an aside, I suspect that aircraft movements have an unexpected effect on the temperature. Just recently I’ve been watching the temperature graph at Hong Kong International Airport (Chek Lap Kok) which can be seen here:
It is a pretty busy airport but with a quiet time from about 0200 to 0700 local. What may or may not be significant is that the temperature plot is much smoother during the night hours when there are few aircraft movements.

Reply to  David Chappell
February 24, 2018 1:44 pm

That’s interesting David, kind of makes a person wonder how much of “global warming” is caused by aircraft movements at thousands of airport weather stations since the arrival more jet aircraft. Those temps on your graph vary by about a degree C during the busy periods. But Mosher previously said there is no difference between airport and non-airport readings, so the Hong Kong graph must be wrong. But with a few thousand readings at other airports, we could get it accurate within a hundredth of a degree /sarc

February 24, 2018 7:06 am

Heating up the runways to heat up the temperature readings could be a big win for warmists — they gotta keep the “hottest ever” meme going.

February 24, 2018 9:46 am

Heated runways will attract birds looking to get warm. What could go wrong with that?

February 24, 2018 9:52 pm

Decades ago I flew up to Inuvik NWT in a Boeing 737 and my neighbour Bob was the pilot. He asked me to sit upfront and we had a good flight north. I asked him if engine thrust deflectors were the main component of braking when landing the aircraft, and he said no, the wheel brakes were the primary braking component and the thrust deflectors provided additional braking.
Assume this is true. Heating to melt runway snow is going to result in runway icing, especially under very cold conditions, and I really don’t think we want to land aircraft on icy runways when wheel braking is the primary form of stopping the aircraft.
Running out of runway is not one of the best ways to stop an aircraft. It happened to my friend Diet (our company pilot) when he was piloting a twin-engine aircraft out of Edmonton International – he related that both engines failed just after take-off and wheels-up – he pancaked in a snowy field, slid the length of the field and down into a gully, through a copse of trees, sliced off both wings and ended up nose down in a frozen creek bed. All of our guys were OK – shaken but not stirred.
You know how they say that any landing you can walk away from is a good landing? Not so much in this case – and it was a rental airplane. 🙂

February 24, 2018 10:20 pm
Small planes have their risks.
My friend Diet co-owned an aircraft with Al Williams, of A D Williams Engineering. Al Williams, like Diet, was a meticulous and highly skilled pilot – I flew with him several times. Al was killed in a plane crash in the Rockies in October 2007, but managed to save his three-year-old granddaughter, Kate, who was found safely strapped into a child seat in the upside-down plane’s wreckage. She was the only survivor of the crash.
I just read the above CBC article, and learned that Al Williams’ son Reagan also died in a plane crash, along with four colleagues, six months after his dad’s death. This does not make any sense. These were great guys and great pilots. Sometimes the odds just seem to stack up against you. 🙁

D. J. Hawkins
February 26, 2018 10:31 am

Why would you assume that the system would be turned off once the snow was melted, only to refreeze? If it’s enough to melt the snow, it’s enough to keep the water liquid. If you look at the test patch, it’s enough to dry the runway with snow on adjacent surfaces.

Reply to  D. J. Hawkins
February 27, 2018 10:29 pm

I assume that the system would not be able to melt all the snow in very cold weather.
Far better to plow and sweep it off the runway that to try and melt it – if the melting system does not work to perfection, it makes the runway worse, not better.

February 25, 2018 6:07 am

By 2019, pilots & children won’t know what Ice and Snow covered runways are! Problem solved! CO2Change ™ – there is nothing it cannot do!

%d bloggers like this: