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Seaports need a plan for weathering climate change, Stanford researchers say
Date:5/16/2011

ina in 2005, storm and flood damage can devastate a regional economy for years after an event and have national impacts," said Becker. Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane, caused an estimated $1.7 billion of damage to Louisiana ports. This month, the region is bracing for flood damage once again, as the National Weather Service is predicting that the Mississippi River could crest in New Orleans on May 23.

And with scientists forecasting a doubling of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean by 2100, it seems all the more imperative to start thinking about adapting port infrastructures now, he said.

Threat of violent storms

Sea level rise and more frequent violent storms resulting from climate change threaten to take a tremendous toll on all types of infrastructure especially along the coasts, said study co-author Martin Fischer, professor of civil and environmental engineering and director of the Center for Integrated Facility Engineering at Stanford.

Fischer, Becker and a group of Stanford engineers are developing computer models to help port authorities and other government agencies make more informed decisions about adapting to climate change as they plan for the next generation of infrastructure. The group meets weekly at a seminar that focuses on engineering and policy for a sustainable future. "Look around at any seaport today and you will see structures that were built 100 years ago," said Fischer. "And the buildings that we are building today will be around when sea level rise begins to reshape the coast."

The problem on a global scale, he said, is that ports may start scrambling all at once to adapt their structures to changing environmental conditions. "It could potentially exceed our capacity for construction worldwide," he added.

Fischer and his colleagues have developed a model that demonstrates how a rapid, simultaneous push to fortify the world's seaports could drive up demand for con
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
650-723-9296
Stanford University
Source:Eurekalert

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