Sea level rise (SLR) is a major challenge for port cities around the world, and for the ports themselves, which sit at the land-water interface. Hurricanes ‘Katrina’ (New Orleans), ‘Sandy’ (New York) and ‘Harvey’ (Houston) underlined both the vulnerability of existing port infrastructures and their importance to urban regions and to trade. As extreme climate events will proliferate in the future there is considerable uncertainty in how, when and where SLR will affect port infrastructures and operations.  Current planning frameworks are incapable of responding to these uncertainties and challenges.

This collaborative research project aims to support the Port of Vancouver with long-term planning and decision-making processes in the context of sea level rise and its potential impacts on port infrastructures and operations. Ongoing research aims to identify existing flood vulnerabilities/risks alongside developing pathways for adaptation based on scenario planning. The work is premised on an idea that rather than a constraint, SLR adaptation is an opportunity to envision new spatial developments that are at once robust and flexible—taking into consideration uncertain future conditions and possibilities for upgrades while providing protection in the near-term.


Dina Dudokh, Patrick Beech