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Climate change port survey participants confirm increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather events

Wednesday, 13 November 2019 | 00:00

Ports covering every major ocean as well as inland ports and waterways have confirmed the increase in frequency and severity of extreme weather events and the serious impact these have had on infrastructure and operations.

The survey has been organised by the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH) on behalf of the partners of the Navigating a Changing Climate (NaCC) initiative. It has been developed to gather aggregate, high-level data on costs and consequences of extreme weather events. These cover not only damage, clean-up and additional maintenance costs, but also the consequences of closures, downtime and delays. The survey also considers wider issues, for example the role of warning systems and contingency plans.

Jan Brooke, PIANC lead coordinator of the survey commented : “Last year, the NaCC partners identified that a lack of data on the consequences of inaction is a potential barrier to justifying investment in improving climate-resilience. So we devised this survey in order to gauge just how much impact extreme weather and oceanographic events are having on ports around the world.”

Early indicators confirm scientific results on weather events’ frequency and severity
Early responses from over fifty ports of varying sizes located around the world already confirm the impact of the increase in extreme events on port infrastructure and operational downtime. Nearly two thirds so far have reported downtimes of between one six-hour shift and seventy two hours. More than half of respondents consider the effects of these extreme-weather induced closures and downtime to be ‘significant’ or ‘critical'. In addition, more than one in five respondents reported clean-up, damage repair and extra maintenance costs of between USD 100,000 and USD 10,000,000.

“The frequency increase in extreme weather events in the past four decades is irrevocable.” comments Dr. Antonis Michail, Technical Director of the IAPH World Ports Sustainability Program.

The recent Bio Science journal article published by eminent scientists (William J Ripple et al) and quoted in The Guardian include indicators* which document these changing patterns since 1979.

“The survey not only serves as a study in emerging patterns of extreme weather and oceanographic events,” adds Dr. Michail. “It also deals with the question about how ports can step up their plans to minimise the impact of these events, and how ports can share their experience on how to cope in the aftermath of a specific event. As a partner project of the World Ports Sustainability Program, our next step is to ensure these results are widely disseminated amongst our membership, and the port community in general.”

Jan Brooke will be presenting the full results of the survey on Wednesday 18th March, 2020, during the Risk and Reputation stream of the #IAPH2020 World Ports Conference in Antwerp.

The survey remains open for all ports until 20th December. Results will be used in an aggregate format only; individual port or waterway data will be kept strictly confidential.
Source: IAPH

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