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Sea level rise exposure assessment of U.S. East Coast cargo container terminals

Thomas R. Allen, George McLeod and Sheila Hutt

Maritime Policy & Management, 2022, vol. 49, issue 4, 577-599

Abstract: Continuity of marine port operations and recovery in the event of disaster and flooding are dependent upon planning for acute or chronic disruptions. Ports are developing the capacity to integrate climate change adaptation with strategic planning and making capital investments in infrastructure. Geospatial risk assessments have demonstrated utility for planning marine port terminal facilities. Such assessments have tended to be coarse and comprehensive (whole port cities) or narrow, site-specific and single-hazard approaches (single terminal or site scale). This study develops a methodology for major container port terminals on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States to advance a screening approach to sea level rise, identify exposure to terminals and associated surface transportation, and enable comparative assessment. The study leverages geospatial data, elevation, imagery, transportation databases, tide gauges, and sea level rise projections. The approach extends prior methods to quantify exposure across multiple ports and terminals. Hypsographs and modelled future tidal flooding are derived for each port. Results highlight the need for port planning to develop GIS, monitor sea level rise trends, engage in integrative assessments, and optimize mitigation and adaptation actions. Results show similarities across yet also differentially increasing threats of relative sea level rise and tidal flooding at individual terminals.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1080/03088839.2021.1903597

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