Sea-level rise in ports: a wider focus on impacts

Christodoulou A., Christidis P., Demirel H.

MARITIME ECONOMICS & LOGISTICS, vol.21, no.4, pp.482-496, 2019 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 21 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1057/s41278-018-0114-z
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.482-496
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


In this paper, we assess the impacts of climate change on seaports for different global warming level scenarios. The results refer to the potential risks associated with two scenarios, represented by sea-level rise projections that have been estimated considering mean sea level, tides, waves and storm surges. The comparison of the results of the two scenarios shows that 25% more cargo can be affected by extreme water levels until the end of the century, according to the high warming scenario (RCP8.5), than that according to the RCP4.5 scenario. Major European ports at risk are identified using their projected exposure to sea-level rise and extreme weather events. The size of impacts is measured in relation to the volumes of cargo handled annually. According to the high warming scenario, extreme sea level increases higher than 0.5 m will affect the largest part of the European coastline, while more than 1 m increases will occur in the North Sea, the Western part of the Baltic Sea and in parts of the British and French Atlantic coasts. Furthermore, from 2010 to 2100, the amount of cargo to be handled in ports exposed to extreme sea levels higher than 4.5 m will increase by more than 200 million tonnes, while the majority of these ports will be located in Spain, UK, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. In the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, the impacts are expected to be significantly milder (lower Extreme Sea Levels) but to occur more frequently in comparison to the North Sea. The wider impacts of potential disruptions in port operations are evaluated by considering the effects on the European hinterland at regional level, and on European foreland by taking into account Europe's connections to major ports worldwide. Areas outside Europe where relatively high secondary impacts might be expected include North Africa, America and the Middle East.