Health & Environment

Sea Level Rise: What is the Forecast for Boston Harbor?

Courtesy of The Boston Harbor Association,

Scientists and officials from the U.S. stuffEnvironmental Protection Agency, Princeton University, and UMASS Boston, along with local designers, advocates, public officials, and representatives of the real estate agency joined more than 425 guests for The Boston Harbor Association’s first ever “Sea Level Rise Forum,” supported by the Barr Foundation, in late November.  Discussion centered around the potential impacts of sea level rise on the city of Boston.

Highlights included keynote addresses by Gina McCarthy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Assistant Administrator, and Guy Nordenson, co-author of On the Water: Palisade Bay and coordinator of the Rising Currents: Projects for New York’s Waterfront exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art.

Dr. Ellen Douglas and Chris Watson of UMass Boston and Dr. Paul Kirshen of the Battelle Institute showcased specially prepared maps illustrating the potential impacts of sea level rise and climate change on Boston Harbor and local neighborhoods, such as the varying flood level results of an extreme coastal flooding event under different scenarios of future sea level rise.

The most recent scientific research suggests that sea level could rise as much as 2.5 feet by mid-century (2050) and anywhere from 2.5 to over 6 feet by the end of the century (2100) due to global warming, the result of releasing too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels and changing land use.

Following the forum, two community meetings were held in East Boston and Dorchester to discuss climate change and potential sea level rise. Residents were particularly interested in ways they can help minimize greenhouse gas emissions.

Materials from the forum will be posted on TBHA’s web site in February 2011.