Structural resilience of core port infrastructure in a changing climate. Work Package 3 of Enhancing the resilience of seaports to a changing climate report series

TitleStructural resilience of core port infrastructure in a changing climate. Work Package 3 of Enhancing the resilience of seaports to a changing climate report series
Publication TypeReport

Project Page   Final Report

Year of Publication2013
AuthorsKong, D, Setunge, S, Molyneaux, T, Zhang, G, Law, D
InstitutionNational Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
CityGold Coast
ISBN Number978-1-921609-86-2
Keywordsdeterioration threshold, Gladstone Ports Corporation, Port Kembla Port Corporation, probabilistic modelling, Sydney Ports Corporation, workshops

The research presented here aimed to identify key port infrastructure elements affected by climate change, to understand the deterioration mechanisms relevant to these structural components, and forecast the rate of deterioration of structures over a period for which climate scientists could provide the necessary projections. The output is presented in the form of a software tool which provides the progression of a number of deterioration mechanisms affecting port structures according to six different climate futures. This will allow a port engineer to ascertain the changes needed in maintenance of port infrastructure over a 70 year time horizon. A methodology for calculating the changes to the life cycle cost of port structures is also presented with demonstration of the application of the method using three case study examples. 

Three port corporations: Gladstone Ports Corporation, Sydney Ports Corporation (Port Botany) and Port Kembla Port Corporation provided a significant contribution to the project by meeting with the researchers, hosting researcher visits, attending workshops and providing the information necessary for validating the methodology developed. 

Research commenced with visits to the ports and gathering of information to identify key port structures and the types of elements affected by climate change. After scoping the major structural elements and material types, researchers compiled the typical climate data required for modelling of impacts on these structural materials. The first major challenge for the research team was identifying reliable climate data for the three regions for a significant period into the future. The team worked with the CSIRO and Work Package 1 (WP1) to compile relevant data. It was decided to use two emissions scenarios and three climate future models. However, there were some extreme weather events for which reliable data could not be obtained. Therefore these events, such as extreme wind and storm events, were excluded from the analysis. 

For the material deterioration mechanisms for which reliable input climate data were available and after a critical analysis of literature published to date, simulation models were compiled. An advanced probabilistic modelling approach was utilised to ensure that the variability of numerous input parameters were given due consideration. The methodology, initially developed as a proof of concept, was then converted in to a user friendly software tool to be used by ports engineers. 

Outcomes indicate that the different climate scenarios do not significantly affect the deterioration progression between the base case (current climate) and the future climate scenario. However, the time taken by a structural element to reach a deterioration threshold: e.g. depth of carbonation of concrete reaching the concrete cover, is significantly reduced and in some occasions the threshold can be reached ten years earlier compared to the current climate. This indicates a significant increase in the frequency of maintenance activities required in future compared to the current practice to maintain structures to the levels currently adopted. 

Refereed DesignationRefereed