Are waterfront buyers ignoring the likelihood of sea level rise in the real estate market? That is the question that Scott Van Voorhis asks in this week’s Banker & Tradesman.

As sea levels rise, the Hub and other coveted coastal communities will soon face an even more challenging marketing problem as once-desirable waterfront neighborhoods suddenly appear risky to companies and high-end condo buyers alike. Obviously, the pullback hasn’t happened yet, and it may take a few years to come to fruition.

And by the time the first major flood hits downtown Boston, it may be too late to steer the discussion. But if you are looking to spend a cool $5 million for a new penthouse overlooking Boston Harbor, it would make sense to thoroughly check out the neighborhood. And that should include the unpredictable ocean in the front yard.

Read the full article in Banker & Tradesman.

The following is excerpted from an interactive graphic developed by UMass Boston, showing that a 2.5 foot sea level rise and a storm with a 5 foot surge would largely flood most of the waterfront and periphery of the North End as well as low lying areas in Back Bay, South End East Boston and the Seaport area.

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Boston Flooding with 2.5 Feet Sea Rise & 5 Foot Storm Surge (Globe Graphic – UMass Boston, Dr. Ellen M. Douglas)

 

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4 COMMENTS

  1. An astute concern. After several years researching sea level rise, this is exactly one of the main conclusion's in my new book, due out in September, namely that the inevitable rise of sea level for the next few centuries will soon affect the premium values for low lying coastal land. With a limited future, it will become more like leased property, than something permanent. The awareness is just starting to change, but understandable since sea level has been stable for 6,000 years. We have ignored the geologic history. 20,000 yrs ago it was down 390 feet. 125,000 years ago it was 25 feet higher. Now it is rising and will for centuries. If interested in my book and to be notified when available see johnenglander.net/book.

  2. This is a highly irresponsible piece. And that John Englander chimes in only worsens the matter for me. According to his own profile, John was merely a dual major, economics and geology. If anyone does not know what that means, it means he took half the required courses to complete a major in either. I don’t have access to his academic records, but that number is somewhere around five courses in each discipline. He claims that this (paltry education, in my book) provides him unique insight into the big picture.

    While I admire his time in the Ocean, he’s no Duncan Fitzgerald. (Yes, I know, for most people, that is not digestable as a cocktail joke. How about this instead? I love George Clooney, but he’s no Cary Grant.” Except in this case, it’s more like, “I love Paula Abdul, but she’s no Fairuz.” Darn! There I go again.

    The map shows flooding in the case of both a 2.5-foot sea level rise and a 5-foot storm surge. While not a trident, this is surely the most perfect storm for fear mongers! Heck, why not show me the result of a 25-foot sea level rise and a tsunami? Both are utterly dramatic scenarios that would arise only in a geologic nightmare.

    This snapshot is a map marked for discussion and research purposes only. It is clearly a piece showing a very dramatic scenario. What students at U Mass do in their time is one thing. If you want to have a comprehensive conversation that cuts through the politics and bad science, you’d be better off hitting one of the world’s top geology departments, such as the one at B.U., which works hand-in-hand with WHOI.

    According to http://www.johnenglander.net, John continues to serve as a “special advisor” (Special Advisor on Climate, Friends of the United Nations) to the U.N., whose 2007 report on Global Warming has been largely discredited. Scientists have retracted false or unsupported claims in it (and outside of it) so that all global warming theorists must now hide beneath the umbrella of “Climate Change.” (And yes, Global Warming it is still a theory, as is Global Cooling; and research continues on both theories.)

    The climate is supposed to change. The North Pole shifts. And will continue to. Erosion is natural and good. Just because it threatens a pretty beach house does not make it bad.

    The only truth is that we don’t know what is going on. John writes above, “20,000 yrs ago [sea level] was down 390 feet. 125,000 years ago it was 25 feet higher. Now it is rising and will for centuries.” John, what was man doing 125,000 years ago? Were the birds chirping playfully about how there expulsions must be warming the planet?

    Should we tell the audience that the last geologic epoch began just about 12,000 years ago? Should we mention that the sea level was merely 125 feet higher 125,000 years ago which happened to be the warmest peak of the Eemian? For the everyday reader, this is a time when tundra was lush forest.

    Sea levels rise and fall, and the next ice age is inevitable. Smart Cars can’t save the planet from nature. We will travel into the next geologic epoch, for better or worse, whether we like it or not.

    Everybody, get out there and explore! Treat the earth kindly. But live your lives and be happy. By the time there is a 2.5 foot sea level increase, Kingdom might’ve come already! And the 5-foot surge might just be the wake from the Ark.

    Kansas says it best, “All we are is dust in the wind.”

  3. Matt – the 125 below should please be changed to 25. Sorry!! / BB

    Should we tell the audience that the last geologic epoch began just about 12,000 years ago? Should we mention that the sea level was merely 125 feet higher 125,000 years ago which happened to be the warmest peak of the Eemian? For the everyday reader, this is a time when tundra was lush forest.

  4. Brian – now that Sandy has shown us a 6 to 9 foot storm surge on top of a very high tide along hundreds of miles of eastern coastline, are you reconsidering your earlier post?

    Isn’t it now pretty clear that the scenario shown here is not only plausible, but perhaps even likely in our lifetime?

    Time to move past irrational denial and start the thoughtful planning. Let’s revive that ol’ Yankee ingenuity and work our way out of this…

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