Boston is the largest urban area along the Massachusetts coastline, and Boston Harbor is the most active waterfront in New England. Boston's 105 shoreline miles and population of more than 600,000 require extensive infrastructure to support residential, recreational, commercial, and industrial waterfront uses. The city's density of infrastructure and development in close proximity to the harbor makes it vulnerable to coastal storms and sea level rise.
The goal of the Boston StormSmart Coasts pilot project was to identify low-lying areas across the city likely to be impacted by sea level rise through the development of accurate inundation maps. The city, particularly the Environment Department and the Conservation Commission, can use coastal inundation maps to strengthen performance standards for development and redevelopment in vulnerable areas.
Approach and Results
Boston's StormSmart Coasts team reviewed sea level rise projections, coastal inundation mapping methods, and planning and regulatory options for climate change adaptation. Team meetings were attended by scientists from the Environmental, Earth, and Ocean Sciences Department of the University of Massachusetts Boston, now the School for the Environment, and Battelle Memorial Institute. With support from the Barr Foundation, these partners created a series of sea level rise maps for Boston Harbor and its neighborhoods that depict the possible extent of tides and floods in the future. Check them out on the Boston Harbor Association website.