Elise Miller-Hooks

Protecting Global Maritime-based Intermodal Freight Distribution Systems from the Impacts of Climate Change

Project 50
World Maritime-based Trade Routes (Rodrigue and Brown, 2008)

Intermodal (IM) freight transport systems and their components play a significant role in the U.S. and world economies. Maritime transport operating within an IM system involving land-water interfaces remains the dominant mode for international trade. Ports and other terminals, bridges and tunnels are critical components of these systems. Many of these components, as well as other rail and roadway system infrastructures, however, are by the nature of their designs and locations inherently vulnerable to rising sea levels, significant precipitation events, storm surges and consequent coastal flooding. Continued increase in sea level, storm frequency and intensity, total precipitation and storm surges are projected (NRC, 2010) as the earth's climate changes, and temporary or permanent inundation of these transportation elements are expected as a consequence. The IM system is a complex system of modal networks and IM interfaces with trade routes that cross the globe. Together these systems and related facilities form what is referred to as Global Commodity Chains. The collaborative and competitive roles of the stakeholders further complicate the process of analyzing and optimizing system performance under differing investment strategies that may be considered to combat the impacts of climate change. This project will develop optimization-based tools for examining system-level performance changes caused by SLR and related meteorological events at individual system elements and improvements enabled through capital investments in a multi-temporal scheme. The tools will also provide decision makers with investment strategies for optimal system-level performance while considering the individual objectives of the stakeholders. Quantitative information generated from the tools will support decisions pertaining to: (1) in which portions of the system (which ports, terminals or lines) to invest, (2) to what level each stakeholder should or would need to invest, and (3) when investments should be made over a long time horizon. The tool(s) will enable the identification of potential weak points or critical IM system components, system-level performance impacts from forecasted SLR and meteorological futures, and an understanding of the system-level benefits that can be derived from investments at varying levels made to any combination of system components.

Award Period:
Source of Funding:
USDOT, National University Transportation Center - University of Maryland
PI Elise Miller-Hooks (on subaward to GMU), prior coPI on main contract


Total Award Amount:

Project 50


Elise Miller-Hooks, Ph.D.
Bill & Eleanor Hazel Chair in Infrastructure Engineering

Phone: 703.993.1685
Email: miller@gmu.edu

Office: 4614 Nguyen Engineering Building

Sid and Reva Dewberry Department of Civil, Environmental and Infrastructure Engineering
George Mason University
4400 University Drive, MS 6C1
Fairfax, VA 22030


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