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November December 2019 Marina World

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The magazine for the marina industry

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DISASTER MANAGEMENT Climate or weather change – be prepared by Darren Vaux The marina industry operates at the interface where the embodied energy from 71% of the world’s water surface interacts with the remaining 29% that is land. The marina industry has always needed to be prepared for, and react to, extreme weather. The effect of climate change is increased frequency and intensity of these extreme weather events. What does this really mean for the boating and marina industries? Let’s break it down into the key components that affect our industry: 1. Extreme weather Evidence suggests that there is an increase in both intensity and frequency of severe weather events in the warmer months and in some cases a reduction in the cooler months. This is a logical consequence of the warming of the globe and in particular the top layers of the ocean as higher levels of evaporation lead to higher levels of precipitation. Essentially, as the earth absorbs and retains more energy from the sun, the atmosphere and oceans become more charged with energy. This manifests in higher, high-pressure systems and lower, low-pressure systems creating steeper pressure gradients, i.e. more wind. Likewise, troughs and fronts become more intense as hot humid air is forced more quickly up into the atmosphere by a cold front creating more intense thunderstorms. What the evidence is showing and what we all feel anecdotally is that the weather is changing both at the extreme level but also in the nature and frequency of more local and regional weather. We are already seeing the consequences of this at two levels. For businesses and boaters alike, insurance premiums are on the rise. As insurance markets are global, a result of re-insurance damage from extreme weather events in other parts of the world translate to premium rises in countries far and wide, such as New Zealand, Canada and Italy. Insurance is also being conditioned with some boats, types of storage and locations being unable to secure insurance or only at greatly increased premiums. At the practical level, in some locations there are fewer perfect days for boating predominantly due to increased wind strength and storm activity. Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March 2017 was the most severe storm to hit Queensland since Nathan in 2015. Its highest wind speed reached 215km/hr (133.5mi/hr). This is both a mixture of reality and perception. The idea of more wind sounds great if you are into sailing and kite-surfing but the reality of the market is that in some countries, such as Australia, power driven craft (PWCs to cruisers) and ‘intention to fish’ are the largest sector of the market and the largest contributor to new participants in a market where the average age of participants is increasing. These boaters prefer calmer days. So, how do we prepare ourselves for a future where there is more extreme weather and an increased frequency of days when there is more wind or storms? In the first instance, we need to carefully consider the location and attenuating capacities of our marinas and mooring apparatus into the future and the ease of access to berthing and mooring in difficult conditions. This will need to be coupled with better marina designs and technologies for ease of manoeuvring as well as changes in vessel design to reduce windage. Another consideration with regard to increased rainfall is the implication for existing channels and dredging. As an industry, we need to be working with government in a proactive way to plan for ongoing maintenance dredging to keep our waterways safe and navigable. Education, training and planning for extreme weather events has never been more important. We are now seeing extreme weather events impacting on Storm damage at Port Hinchinbrook Marina. Photo: ABC www.marinaworld.com - November/December 2019 31

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