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South Shore Coastal Hazards Characterization Atlas

Find information on and links to this document developed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) StormSmart Coasts Program.

The South Shore Coastal Hazards Characterization Atlas was prepared CZM in 2005 by Applied Coastal Research and Engineering, Inc. The document was designed to assist local officials in the communities from Hull to the Cape Cod Canal with the review of coastal projects. It provides technical information necessary to evaluate individual projects and implement sound coastal hazard mitigation strategies for the ocean-facing shores.

The atlas provides maps for these South Shore communities that illustrate shoreline variables at a scale of 1:40,000 and depict such features as littoral cell boundaries, short term shoreline change, shoreline type, distribution of properties with multiple federal flood insurance claims between 1978 and 2002, and beach width fronting coastal banks. Tide range, wave climate, and storm susceptibility are also characterized for the entire coast of Massachusetts, while the rate of relative sea level rise is provided for stations along the northeastern coast of the United States.

Atlas Components

  • Description of Variables (PDF, 1 MB) - This document explains the purpose of the project, the measures for selecting the coastal variables, and the general method for evaluating each variable. This document also contains a set of statewide/regional maps, including:
  • Main Content/Atlas Maps - This page includes links to the main content of the atlas, indexed by location. For each location, the following maps are available:
    • Properties with Multiple Federal Flood Insurance Claims
    • Historical Shoreline Change Rate
    • Shoreline Type
    • Dominant Coastal Processes
    • Coastal Engineering Structures
    • Beach Width Fronting Coastal Banks
  • Atlas Acknowledgements - This page includes authors, dates, contact information, and other publication details.

Questions regarding the project can be directed to CZM Geologist Rebecca Haney at rebecca.haney@mass.gov.

How to Use the Atlas

Due to the geological and geographic setting of the Massachusetts coast, implementation of effective coastal hazards mitigation strategies should be viewed initially from a regional perspective. Coastal hazard characteristics and processes can then be considered at a local level to assess individual projects and site-specific hazard mitigation strategies. This atlas presents information for the South Shore region, for the open coasts facing Cape Cod Bay or Massachusetts Bay. Where possible, relevant variables were also mapped for the protected shoreline along Kingston Bay, Duxbury Bay, and Plymouth Harbor. The atlas provides an index of atlas tiles that link to 17 sections of the South Shore coastline. Each tile has multiple maps showing the individual variables for that section of shoreline (as listed above). To correctly interpret these variables, all shoreline data should be evaluated in the context of current shoreline conditions and recent changes in shoreline uses.

(Note: Any views or opinions presented in publications prepared for CZM are solely those of the author[s] and do not necessarily represent those of the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, or the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Please see our website policies.)

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