An Assessment of the Impacts of Climate Change on Freight Delivery Schedule Strategies on the Mackenzie River

  • Author / Creator
    Zheng, Yunzhuang
  • The Mackenzie River is a major freight transportation route serving many remote northern Canadian communities and mining sites. The river is only navigable during the summer and early fall months, when it is clear of ice. However, the water conditions of this river have changed significantly in recent years, and are expected to continue to do so into the future, resulting in increased uncertainty for waterway transport. This thesis discusses a climate change adaptation measure for freight schedule planning on the Mackenzie River. The purpose of this research is to provide some guidance to shipping companies, customers, and the government on how shipping patterns may need to evolve in order to efficiently adapt to future climate conditions. In this research, we first analyse historical freight volume data and forecast the future volumes based on these data. Historical volumes are provided by Northern Transportation Company Limited (NTCL), a major shipping company on the Mackenzie River. Freight is categorized into two major classes according to historical volume data: fuel and dry cargos. Dry cargos include items such as construction materials and equipment, personal vehicles, etc. The seasonal Kendall trend test is applied to assess the monotonic trends (increase or decrease) existed in the freight volumes. Significant decreasing trends over time (from 2002 to 2015) at a 99% confidence level are identified in total freight volumes. Specifically, volume decreases after 2008 and in 2010 are found. One major reason for the volume decrease after 2008 is that since 2008 summer, another shipping company expanded their sealift services to Kitikmeot communities via the Northwest Passage, resulting in decreased volumes to Tuktoyaktuk and Arctic Region from NTCL. However, no documents were found to report reasons of the decrease in 2010. Checking historical water level data at Fort Good Hope, the water levels in 2010 were found to be relatively lower compared to other years, which may be the reason for the decreased volumes in this year. Both decreases are modelled using transfer functions in the ARIMA model. However, based on parameter estimation results, the transfer function modelling the shock in 2010 is not remained in the final ARIMA model due to its low significant parameters. Future volumes for fuel and dry cargos are then predicted and applied in the numerical analysis as the base schedule, namely the schedule used when transport companies continue with “business as usual” in the future. A generalized cost function is then developed to factor in the additional cost of rescheduling freight delivery to earlier dates as well as the benefit of utilizing better water conditions. Four cost components are included in this cost function, including handling cost, travel cost, rescheduling cost, and delay cost. A logistics cost optimization model is developed to minimize the total generalized cost to obtain optimal schedules. This model is applied in two scenarios in the numerical analysis, along with a sensitivity analysis. Numerical analysis results indicate that future waterway freight delivery capacities in September and October may be insufficient to transport freight originally assigned to those late-season months. In such a case, shipping companies can arrange a “tighter” schedule in June and July instead of starting the season earlier. However, under certain circumstances (e.g. unable to set up all equipment in May and June), shipping companies may still need to start delivery earlier than usual. Beginning the season earlier and arranging more deliveries in that early part of the season will have significant logistical impacts on customers, shipping companies will need to consult closely with their customers in adapting their operations to future climate conditions. As a result, this research also encourages customers to rethink their delivery needs, particularly the tradeoff of arranging earlier delivery for the advantage of greater delivery reliability. This research also identifies a need for government agencies to more closely monitor climate change and set up navigational aids and buoys in time to ensure shipping companies can start their delivery as they needed. Additionally, government agencies may also need to consider supporting further development of alternate modes of transport. Overall, the results of this research may aid shipping companies, customers, and government agencies in rethinking current practices to more effectively respond to anticipated climate change impacts.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2016-06:Fall 2016
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Specialization
    • Transportation Engineering
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Kim, Amy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Qiu, Tony (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
    • She, Yuntong (Civil and Environmental Engineering)
    • Kim, Amy (Civil and Environmental Engineering)