Thule Air Base Airfield White Painting and Permafrost Investigation. Phases I-IV
ENGINEER RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER HANOVER NH COLD REGIONS RESEARCH AND ENGINEERING LAB
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In the late 1950s, white painting of the airfield at Thule Air Base, Greenland, was started to prevent thawing of ice-rich native permafrost soils that had caused localized depressions in the runway and taxiways. Unfortunately, the painting reduces the braking ability of the aircraft, and increases the costs of operation. Cost-effective alternatives to white painting do exist, such as insulating the subgrade, which was tested at Thule in this study, or over-excavating the ice-rich soils. These solutions can be implemented during the next repaving cycle, eliminating the white painting entirely, and saving future costs. Additionally, the white painting over the entire airfield should be halted. This will allow monitoring of thaw stability, better determining the ultimate extent of the few critical locations requiring thaw mitigation, and providing valuable information to efficiently design the thaw prevention techniques in the upcoming repaving. There will be some minor thaw settlement at a few areas during the time between halting painting and repaving. However, the settlement will not be catastrophic and will not decrease the reliability and operation of the airfield, and can be repaired with knowledge and equipment currently available. Diligent monitoring for any settlement will ensure that this procedure creates no adverse impact.
- Terminal Flight Facilities
- Snow, Ice and Permafrost
- Coatings, Colorants and Finishes