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Port engineers need guidance incorporating sea level rise into construction designs

KINGSTON, R.I. – October 13, 2020 – A survey of maritime infrastructure engineers by University of Rhode Island researchers found that the rising sea level is often not factored into designs of ports, breakwaters, fishing piers and other coastal infrastructure.

“If we’re making decisions about infrastructure today and expect it to be serviceable for the next 50 to 75 years, we should be thinking about what the environmental conditions will be like towards the end of the infrastructure’s life,” said Austin Becker, URI associate professor of marine affairs, who studies how ports are preparing for climate change. “And we know that things are going to be very different along our coasts in the coming years.”

In 2019, Becker and graduate student Benjamin Sweeney surveyed 85 engineers at consulting firms, port authorities and government agencies with experience working on port infrastructure projects in the United States. They found that 64% do

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