A global analysis of ports suggests that over 86% are exposed to more than three natural hazards each year, with damage from natural hazards estimated to cost over US $7.5 billion worldwide per year. The study is published in Communications Earth & Environment.
Rising sea levels increases the potential for powerful storms and tropical cyclones, exposing ports around the world to multiple hazards from both the land and the sea such as cyclone wind, earthquakes, and flooding.
Jasper Verschuur and colleagues compiled a global database of 1,340 ports — including Rotterdam and Los Angeles — in countries such as The Netherlands, USA, India, Australia, and China. The authors considered direct damage to the ports as well as disruption to port activities caused by destruction to infrastructure within one kilometre of the port such as roads, railways, and electricity cables. When considering the direct damage to ports as well as damage to surrounding infrastructure, the estimated cost of damage is US $7.5 billion per year. In addition, the downtime associated with reconstruction and time that ports are inoperable can put trade worth US $63.1 billion at risk each year.
The authors found that 94% (1,260 ports) of ports in their analysis were exposed to at least one natural hazard and that 86.2% (1,155 ports) of ports globally are exposed to more than 3 hazards each year. Of the 1,340 ports included, the authors found 160 have a risk of port-specific damage costs of more than US $10 million per year and 21 ports have a risk of costs more than US $50 million. They caution that the risk to trade is particularly dangerous for Small Island Developing States such as the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the Philippines, whose economies are heavily dependent on maritime trade.
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