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The complex network of global cargo ship movements
Kaluza, P.; Kölzsch, A.; Gastner, M.T.; Blasius, B. (2010). The complex network of global cargo ship movements. J. R. Soc. Interface 2010(January 19)
In: Journal of the Royal Society. Interface. The Royal Society: London. ISSN 1742-5689 , more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in Authors 

    Bioinvasion; Cargo ships; Transportation; Marine

Authors  Top 
  • Kaluza, P.
  • Kölzsch, A.
  • Gastner, M.T.
  • Blasius, B.

    Transportation networks play a crucial role in human mobility, the exchange of goods andthe spread of invasive species. With 90 per cent of world trade carried by sea, the globalnetwork of merchant ships provides one of the most important modes of transportation.Here, we use information about the itineraries of 16 363 cargo ships during the year 2007to construct a network of links between ports. We show that the network has several featuresthat set it apart from other transportation networks. In particular, most ships can beclassified into three categories: bulk dry carriers, container ships and oil tankers. Thesethree categories do not only differ in the ships’ physical characteristics, but also in theirmobility patterns and networks. Container ships follow regularly repeating paths whereasbulk dry carriers and oil tankers move less predictably between ports. The network of allship movements possesses a heavy-tailed distribution for the connectivity of ports andfor the loads transported on the links with systematic differences between ship types.The data analysed in this paper improve current assumptions based on gravity models ofship movements, an important step towards understanding patterns of global trade andbioinvasion.

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