THE INFLUENCE OF WEATHER AND ICE ON FERRY OPERATIONS: MODELLING PRESENT-DAY EFFECTS TO PREDICT FUTURE TRENDS
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Ferry performance is influenced to a great degree by environmental factors. Adverse weather and ice conditions can severely restrict the ability to conduct operations in a safe, efficient, and financially viable manner. Furthermore, as regional conditions vary due to climate change influences, the effects may become more severe. In order to better understand how specific weather and ice factors influence ferry operations, a statistical analysis is conducted using a case study of historical Marine Atlantic Incorporated traffic data and historical weather and ice condition data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction North American Regional Reanalysis and Optimum Interpolation Sea Surface Temperature analysis. Random Forest models are constructed to predict ferry sailing cancellations and delays, using selected environmental factors as inputs, to examine the influence and relationships of specific factors and combinations of factors, and to project rates of cancellation in the coming decades using Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 data sets. Results show that (1) environmental factors are good predictors of cancellations and poor predictors of delays, (2) wind speed is the most important environmental factor for cancellation prediction, and air temperature the most important for delay prediction, and, (3) that the ratio of cancelled sailings to total sailings is projected to increase over the next three decades.