Climatic Change

, Volume 110, Issue 1, pp 5–29

Climate change impacts on international seaports: knowledge, perceptions, and planning efforts among port administrators

  • Austin Becker
  • Satoshi Inoue
  • Martin Fischer
  • Ben Schwegler

DOI: 10.1007/s10584-011-0043-7

Cite this article as:
Becker, A., Inoue, S., Fischer, M. et al. Climatic Change (2012) 110: 5. doi:10.1007/s10584-011-0043-7


Seaports are located in vulnerable areas to climate change impacts: on coasts susceptible to sea-level rise and storms or at mouths of rivers susceptible to flooding. They serve a vital function within the local, regional, and global economy. 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 SLR of .6 m to 2 m and doubling of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes by 2100, will result in more extreme events at many seaports. 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 planned rapid expansion of ports reported by the survey respondents 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 needs to address this issue and most felt relatively uninformed about potential climate impacts. Although most ports felt that SLR 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 prepare proactively for climate change impacts on this sector.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Austin Becker
    • 1
  • Satoshi Inoue
    • 2
  • Martin Fischer
    • 3
  • Ben Schwegler
    • 4
  1. 1.Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment and ResourcesStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.National Graduate Institute for Policy StudiesTokyoJapan
  3. 3.Center for Integrated Facility Engineering, Civil and Environmental EngineeringStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  4. 4.Walt Disney Imagineering R&D and Consulting Professor at Stanford UniversityGlendaleUSA