Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 2471–2484 | Cite as

A review of potential physical impacts on harbours in the Mediterranean Sea under climate change

  • Agustín Sánchez-ArcillaEmail author
  • Joan Pau Sierra
  • Sally Brown
  • Mercè Casas-Prat
  • Robert James Nicholls
  • Piero Lionello
  • Dario Conte
Original Article


The potential impact of climate change on port operations and infrastructures has received much less attention than the corresponding impact for beach systems. However, ports have always been vulnerable to weather extremes and climate change could enhance such occurrences at timescales comparable to the design lifetime of harbour engineering structures. The analysis in this paper starts with the main climatic variables affecting harbour engineering and exploitation. It continues with a review of the available projections for such variables first at global scale and then at a regional scale (Catalan coast in the western Mediterranean) as a study case for similar environments in the planet. The detailed assessment of impacts starts from downscaled projections for mean sea level and wave storms (wind not considered in the paper). This is followed by an analysis of the port operations and infrastructure performance that are relevant from a climate perspective. The key climatic factors here considered are relative sea level, wave storm features (height, period, direction and duration) and their combined effect, which is expected to produce the highest impacts. The paper ends with a discussion and some examples of analyses aiming at port adaptation to future climate change.


Climate change Ports Downscaling Mediterranean Impacts 



The work described in this publication was funded by the European Union Framework Programme through the grant to the budget of the Collaborative Project RISES-AM-, Contract ENV-2013-two-stage-603396. It has also benefitted from the data in PLAN-WAVE project (CTM2013-45141-R, co-financed by FEDER funds).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Agustín Sánchez-Arcilla
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Joan Pau Sierra
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sally Brown
    • 3
  • Mercè Casas-Prat
    • 4
  • Robert James Nicholls
    • 3
  • Piero Lionello
    • 5
    • 6
  • Dario Conte
    • 6
  1. 1.(LIM/UPC) Laboratori d’Enginyeria MarítimaUniversitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC), BarcelonaTechBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Centre Internacional d’Investigació dels Recursos Costaners (CIIRC)BarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Faculty of Engineering and the Environment and Tyndall Centre for Climate Change ResearchUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  4. 4.Environment and Climate Change CanadaTorontoCanada
  5. 5.DiSTeBAUniversity of SalentoLecceItaly
  6. 6.CMCC (EuroMediterranean Center on Climate Change)LecceItaly

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