top of page

Port Notes - The Climate Change Conundrum

From the Desk of Capt. Jeff Monroe, MM, AMPE

Climate change remains one of the hottest topics currently in the public realm. While the causes of climate change tend to spark political debate, the realities of a changing climate are decidedly apolitical: warming temperatures, rising sea levels, melting ice sheets, and changing weather patterns. As with any other major force of change – technological advancement, shifts in the global economy, patterns of consumption – successful ports will contemplate a changing climate when planning.

Ports are in the process of looking at long-range infrastructure investments based on the revised 100-year flood plain maps put out by FEMA and Environment Canada. New piers are being built higher, and retrofitted piers and wharves also being planned for higher elevations. A few good ideas which have come up include how ports and reduce the impact of solar insolation (also known as “solar irradiance”). As most know, the atmosphere is heated from the warming of the Earth’s surface. To mitigate surface heating, ports are covering their building roofs with lighter colored roof coverings (white or tan) which reflects, rather than absorbs, solar radiation. By reflecting this radiation, these lighter roofs also reduce air conditioning costs: most successful “green” technologies are those that come with a savings to users. In a similar vein, ports are also looking at paving with lighter colored materials, as well as new paving technologies.

Overall, the impacts of climate change need to be considered in our long-term strategic and master planning. We’ve heard about new and interesting approaches to adapting to climate change from several ports, and we’d love to hear from you: if you are addressing the issue in your planning or improvements, we’d love to hear how you’ve tackled planning around it.

Next week, we’ll be taking a look at the impacts of the opening of trade lances in the Arctic as a result of the receding Arctic ice pack. Be sure to subscribe to Port Notes to get the latest port news and program updates from the IAMPE!

bottom of page