Considering Climate Change: A Survey of Global Seaport Administrators

TitleConsidering Climate Change: A Survey of Global Seaport Administrators
Publication TypeWorking Paper
AuthorsBecker, A., M. Fischer, B. Schwegler, and S. Inoue
Year of Publication2011
Date Published01/2011

Seaports are located in one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change impacts: on coasts susceptible to sea level rise and storms and/or at mouths of rivers susceptible to flooding. Ports serve a vital function within the local, regional, and global economy. In addition, their locations in the heart of sensitive estuarine environments make it an imperative to minimize the impacts of natural hazards. Climate impacts, like a projected sea level rise of .6m to 2m and doubling of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes by 2100, will result in more extreme events at many world ports. To assess the current state of knowledge on this issue, we surveyed port authorities from around the world about how administrators felt climate change might impact their operations, what sea level change would create operational problems, and how they planned to adapt to new environmental conditions. The rapid expansion of ports suggested by our results indicates that adaptation measures should be considered as ports construct new infrastructure that may still be in use at the end of the century. Respondents agreed that the ports community needed to address this issue and most felt relatively uniformed about potential climate impacts. Although most ports felt that sea level rise would not be an issue at their port this century, sea level rise was nevertheless an issue of great concern. Our results suggest opportunities for the scientific community to engage with port practitioners to proactively prepare for climate change impacts on this sector.

KeywordsClimate Change, Climate Change Adaptation, Climate Change Impacts, Climate Change Planning, Infrastructure, Planning, Seaports
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