Port Decision Makers’ Barriers to Climate and Extreme Weather Adaptation

Elizabeth Mclean, Ph.D.
Environmental Scientist, Research Associate

U.R.I. Marine Affairs Department

Friday, May. 3, 2019, 3:10pm
Chase 105

Decision-making barriers challenge ports ability to adapt and build resilience. Heavy rains, storms, sea level rise (SLR), and extreme heat damage critical coastal infrastructure upon which coastal communities depend. Because there is a limited understanding of what impedes port decision makers’ from investing in climate and extreme weather adaptations, we interviewed of 30 port directors/managers, environmental specialists, and safety planners at 15 medium- and high-use ports of the North Atlantic. This study presents a typology of seven key adaptation barriers and five key strategies to overcome them. Consensus on the identified barriers was measured using a cultural consensus model. Knowledge of the barriers that prevent or delay resilience investments is key to reducing coastal vulnerability and support safe and sustainable operations of U.S. ports and to prepare them for future climate and extreme weather events. 


Dr. Elizabeth L. Mclean is an experienced researcher in applied and experimental coral reef studies who is passionate about interactions between man and nature. Most recently, while in the Marine Affairs Department in the University of Rhode Island, her interdisciplinary research focused on seaport’s resilience to climate and extreme weather impacts, and decision-maker’s perceptions on the barriers to climate change adaptations. Prior to studying ports, Dr. Mclean’s work focused on ecology and human dimensions of coastal fishermen and their local ecological knowledge in Rhode Island, Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. Dr. Mclean holds a B.A. in Biology from the University of Ovidius in Constanta, Romania, an M.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Puerto Rico – Mayagüez, an M.S. in Ecology and Evolution from the University at Buffalo, N.Y. and a Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences from the University of Rhode Island. She is a member of the Ecological Society of America, the Infrastructure and Climate Network in New England, and an Affiliated Scientist at the Consortium for Capacity Building in Boulder, CO. She is a regular speaker and contributor at the American Indian Science and Engineering Yearly Conferences. Elizabeth is originally from the Dominican Republic and she lives in Jamestown, RI where she enjoys the water scenes and blending in with the locals.