A systematic assessment of maritime disruptions affecting UK ports, coastal areas and surrounding seas from 1950 to 2014

Adam, E.F.; Brown, S.; Nicholls, R.J.; Tsimplis, M.. 2016 A systematic assessment of maritime disruptions affecting UK ports, coastal areas and surrounding seas from 1950 to 2014. Natural Hazards, 83 (1). 691-713.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2016 This document is the author’s final manuscript version of the journal article, incorporating any revisions agreed during the peer review process. Some differences between this and the publisher’s version remain. You are advised to consult the publisher’s version if you wish to cite from this article. The final publication is available at
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Maritime disruptions can have severe negative implications including affecting business operations, regional and national economies and causing damage to vessels. This study analysed maritime disruptions in UK ports, coastal areas and surrounding seas from 1950 to 2014, systematically assessing their scale, duration, extent and consequences. Disruptions are a single or sequence of hazardous events that negatively affect ‘business as usual’ conditions, ranging from minor to major disruption and even loss of life. To express this range, a severity scale was developed and applied. A database of maritime disruptions and their severities was constructed using data archaeology, identifying 88 events, primarily caused by wind storms (36 %), human error (23 %), mechanical faults (14 %) and storm surges (12 %). All events other than human error or mechanical faults occurred between October and March (typically associated with autumn/winter storms and depressions), with 65 % recorded between November and January. Maritime disruptions from weather events tended to have regional/national impacts, whereas human error or mechanical faults were usually locally severe. Since 2000, ports demonstrated more frequent disruption to wind storms due to mechanization, increased delay and closure reporting, and refined health and safety regulations. Most frequently affected were the sea areas Fair Isle and Dover, and the Felixstowe and Dover ports. Through time, primary impacts shifted from extensive flooding and structural damage to financial impacts and disruption, associated with adaptation including implementation/upgrading of coastal defences, storm warning systems and legislation. Port and governmental bodies responded adaptively (e.g. Thames Barrier construction and development of automatic tracking systems). The UK’s maritime disruption vulnerability has altered significantly since 1950 and continues to evolve.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 0921-030X
Date made live: 16 May 2016 10:07 +0 (UTC)

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