Rising sea levels threaten US ports – Port of LA study underway

31 Oct 2013

Port Beach's operations are at risk from rising waters. Credit: Paul Ottaviano

Port Beach’s operations are at risk from rising waters. Credit: Paul Ottaviano
Rising sea levels pose a significant medium- to long-term threat to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, a select committee has been told in the US.
According to research specialist Pacific Institute’s estimates sea levels south of Cape Mendocino will rise 12 inches by 2030 and 66 inches by 2100.

This, combined with an anticipated increase in storm activity on the back of global warming, could damage port infrastructure, intermodal connections and critical utilities.
Rick Cameron, director of environmental affairs and planning at the Port of Long Beach, told the meeting that the port has a three-year, three-step plan to address the threat.

Firstly the port is completing an impact study that considers the vulnerabilities of its assets, the breakwater, and the port generally. Upon completion the port will then develop a coastal resiliency plan before adopting the plan. Other ports in California are said to be making their own similar assessments.

A study of the Port of Los Angeles, undertaken by the non-profit Santa Monica-based Rand Corporation, warned of more flooding, more ship and quay collisions, decreased clearance under bridges, dislodged containers and damage to buildings during storms.

Research from the Pacific Institute added that up to 30 coastal power plants are at risk from rising sea levels, including 13 in Southern California. 
From the excellent publication, Port Strategy