Port cities are often threatened by rising sea levels, storm surges and damaging winds. Sometimes these events are predicted, but cities are often caught unprepared. When constructing infrastructure, especially in high-risk coastal areas, it is imperative that we build structures not just for today – but for what tomorrow might bring.
Secretary General Angel Gurría, from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), warned in a 2007 study that impending climate changes required political commitment and a range of economic policies to handle its impacts. His statements were backed by a study of 130 key port cities worldwide.
An analysis of the vulnerability of these cities involves an assessment of a wide range of factors. The geographic location of these cities warns us which port cities are most threatened by rising sea levels, storm surges and damaging winds.
But the extensive consideration to this list is given to the level of immediate and future impacts of a natural disaster by the factors of population, density, and economic and cultural assets. The OECD study exposes fifteen countries with the highest populations that are vulnerable to such disasters and evaluates the exposed assets of the top ten countries.
Who’s At Risk?
The list, in order of vulnerability is: Miami, Guangzhou, New York, Calcutta, Shanghai, Mumbai, Tianjim, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Bangkok.
Architecture 2030 assessed US cities in 2007 for their vulnerability, assessing impacts based on a 1-meter rise. The results are startling, as images of coastal cities become half-hidden underwater. More than half of Miami is submerged, while images of NYC are eerily similar to reports of flooding during Hurricane Sandy.
How Can We Prepare?
In short: we need to build better.
Taking future climatic risks into consideration at the time of construction is the best way to protect this infrastructure from damage or premature replacement needs in the future. Appropriate, permanent waterproofing of below grade areas is a critical part of the plan towards better durability of port city infrastructure.
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