Boston’s Chief of Environment, Open Space, and Energy, Austin Blackmon, spoke about the latest Climate Ready Boston report at this week’s North End / Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC). As summarized in this previous post, the new assessment highlights the city’s vulnerability to rising sea levels. The comprehensive report (pdf) issued by the Climate Ready Boston initiative details how the rising tides will start to engulf city neighborhoods in the coming decades.
A sea level rise in Boston of 1.3 – 3.1 feet by 2070 is the mid-range projection of the report. As soon as 2030, an 8 inch rise is expected under various emission scenarios. Climate change will not just impact the shoreline. Rainfall amounts from storms will spike and heat-related events with over 80 days per year of 90 degree-plus days in Boston.
The Downtown Waterfront (including North End) is identified as one of nine focus neighborhoods, as are the Seaport and Back Bay. Boston’s waterfront neighborhoods are largely at risk from significantly higher tides with portions of the shoreline increasingly subject to flooding. A 5% decrease in dry land is projected by simply being underwater.
Council members and the audience raised questions about the city’s willingness to develop on the waterfront (i.e., Lewis Wharf, Harbor Garage, Seaport, etc.), potential sea walls for Boston Harbor and flooding of the MBTA tunnels and infrastructure.
View the video above for the complete discussion.