The complex network of cargo ship movements
The global network of merchant ships is arguably the world’s most important transport network. Advances in shipping logistics have transformed the world economy in recent decades. It is estimated that nowadays 90% of world trade is hauled by cargo ships. As a side effect, cargo ships also exchange up to ten billion tons of ballast water, and with it potentially harmful bio-invasive species, around the globe. I will present how the world-wide network of ship routes can be inferred from the recorded itineraries of more than 16,000 cargo ships. I will highlight the main properties of the network and discuss consequences for economics, traffic modelling and forecasts of ship-mediated marine bio-invasion.