Toolkit to improve resilience of critical ports and dependent national supply chain systems against extreme sea level rise (storm surge) events

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Civil Environmental and Geomatic Eng


As a first stage in the analysis of storm surge risks to UK port infrastructure and supply chain operation, this project aims to improve the resilience of the port of Immingham and its critical biomass/coal transport link to power stations.
The project includes the following three activities:
WF1: To refine and operationalize an innovative artificial neural network (ANN) extreme sea-level prediction model (NE/M008150/1) for application at Immingham (with potential application for other UK ports, especially within estuaries).
WF2: To translate predicted surge height and duration to risks to infrastructure (equipment, facilities) and operations (i.e. impacts on biomass/coal flows) through stakeholder engagement.
WF3: Incorporate railway infrastructure and freight train movements to UCL's MARS model (used in NE/M008150/1) to predict the cascading impacts on the power sector.

Planned Impact

1. Our toolkit and stakeholder workshops will provide the Port of Immingham (which sustains around 17% of national electricity generation, ABP's Humber ports contribute c.£2.2bn to the UK economy per annum and incurred damage to assets of more than £10M in direct cost during Dec 2013 storm surge event) with more detailed knowledge of surge magnitude, inundation extent and impacts on infrastructure elements, and the effectiveness of specific risk mitigation measures. They will enable ports to protect key equipment/infrastructure from sea level rise by identifying them and providing increased protection, permanent relocation or facilitating short-term relocation.
2. The current culture of ports is "wait until a problem happens" because, due to lack of knowledge and appropriate prediction tools, the costs of proactive risk mitigation measures cannot be internally justified. The toolkit will give more detailed information about potential sea level rise and its cost, allowing ports to justify proactive risk mitigation measures. The project will eventually promote a proactive risk management culture.
3. By quantifying impacts of port flooding on them, the rail and energy sectors will be able to work more closely with the port sector, enhancing the resilience of port to power station supply chains. The section outside Immingham Port is one of the busiest freight traffic routes in the UK (Network Rail, 2013) and is regarded as a core trunk route of its Strategic Freight Network.
4. An easy-to-use toolkit for prediction of surge inundation and its knock-on effects on both port and supply chain operations will empower operators and consultancy firms and allow them to engineer solutions at a low cost without running expensive simulations.


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Description Port of Immingham, the largest importer of biomass and coal for electricity production, is vulnerable to storm surge, and indeed the December 2013 surge disabled operations for one week. It is currently reliant on national storm tide warnings that do not always perform well within the Humber Estuary. In addition, rail is a vital carrier of imported coal and biomass to power stations, but barriers between port, rail and energy sectors make it hard to foresee how the impact of flooding during extreme surge events would propagate to their own sectors.
The project produced 1) a tool to predict surge water levels and inundation at Immingham and 2) a data system to measure its knock-on effects. Now the port operator has the developed tool and has good knowledge of potential inundation for each part of their infrastructure, and is considering how to integrate our tool into their operation procedures. The data system shows coal/biomass traffic across the GB rail network, although it needs 1) further 'data interpretation' work in order to allow viewers to see results more clearly, and 2) further customisation of its web interface to specifically meet the needs of individual ports such including Immingham. Port of Immingham and the policy makers are very positive about our products as they can clearly see the impact on critical flows to power stations.
Exploitation Route We would like to go down the TRL as well as roll-out our approach in a wider scale. This includes
• Setting up a server and interfaces so that the stakeholders can easily access to our system via web. The project partner has indicated that, whilst they are very keen to have access to the outputs of our toolkit, they lack the in-house expertise to run a dedicated computer server. We therefore propose to set up dedicated compute-server nodes at UCL, which interfaces the water level forecasting and coupled flood inundation model to a simple web portal. Resources are needed to set this up, but longer-term maintenance can be handled through our existing IT operations.
• Cross referencing and more interpretation of rail freight data, so that it can make precise estimates of the impact. It also increases the viability of commercialisation.
• Test the toolkit at a larger scale. This involves adapting and testing the models in multiple other ports operated by ABP.
These would help us go down the TRL.
Sectors Energy,Transport

Description It has been used in the resilience planning process of Port of Immingham
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Transport
Impact Types Economic

Title A neural network model for Immingham port 
Description A neural network model for Immingham port. Note that the selection above for the type of the tool does not include any non-biology research. This has to be rectified. 
Type Of Material Model of mechanisms or symptoms - human 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This would provide a simple tool for them to predict catastorophy. 
Description Department for Transport 
Organisation Department of Transport
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Department for Transport provided various support to us, including expert comments
Collaborator Contribution We have been working with them. If they need any help, they will ask us.
Impact We have run a project for DEFRA, which originated from our collaboration, because now we have expertise in maritime resilience. The project they have funded include FO0454 (£117,592). We have also provided modelling capabilities when they have issues in Dover-Calais corridor in 2015. We are now providing expert advice for their resilience planning for supply chain after Brexit.
Description Immingham 
Organisation Associated British Ports
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution This partner provided data as well as help.
Collaborator Contribution Providing models, which they can use in their resilience planning
Impact They have developed their resilience plans, which are commercially confidential