CZM has published, contributed to, and/or funded the following materials on coastal erosion, flooding, storms, and sea level rise, as well as other publications on coastal geology. The products are categorized below and then listed alphabetically by title.
See CZM Publications for the full list of materials published by CZM.
(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.)
- Ecosystems and Resources of the Massachusetts Coast (PDF, 11 MB) - This CZM publication from 1975 gives an excellent overview of the geology and ecosystems of coastal Massachusetts.
- Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management Policy Guide - October 2011 - The Policy Guide is the official statement of Massachusetts coastal program policies and legal authorities and includes the policies that govern CZM’s review of projects that affect coastal erosion, flooding, and other shoreline processes.
- Outsmarting the Storm: The Massachusetts StormSmart Coasts Program - This article on page 69 of CZM’s 2008 Coastlines (PDF, 9 MB) magazine gives an overview of CZM’s initial StormSmart Coasts program (which has since evolved into StormSmart Communities), along with information on the No Adverse Impact approach to coastal land management (which is based on a set of "do no harm" principles that communities can use when planning, designing, and evaluating public and private projects).
Tools for Communities to Reduce Risk
- CZM Grant Viewer - This interactive map provides information on these grants awarded by CZM, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program (BBNEP), and the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Partnership (MassBays): CZM’s Coastal Resilience Grants and Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grants, BBNEP grants and funding, and the MassBays Healthy Estuaries Grants. Pop-up boxes provide details on each grant award and information can be sorted by grant program, category (including Construction - Living Shoreline or Stormwater Infrastructure, Design & Permitting, Habitat Restoration, and Vulnerability Assessment), and year that mapped data are available.
- Sea Level Rise: Understanding and Applying Trends and Future Scenarios for Analysis and Planning (PDF, 3 MB) - This 2013 guidance document was developed by CZM to help coastal communities and others plan for and address potential sea level rise effects on residential and commercial development, infrastructure and critical facilities, and natural resources and ecosystems. The document includes background information on local and global sea level rise trends, summarizes the best available sea level rise projections, and provides general guidance in the selection and application of sea level rise scenarios for coastal vulnerability assessments, planning, and decision making for areas that may be at present or future risk from the effects of sea level rise.
- StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 1: Introduction to No Adverse Impact (NAI) Land Management in the Coastal Zone (PDF, 2 MB) - This CZM fact sheet published in 2008 describes the No Adverse Impact (NAI) approach to coastal land management (which is based on a set of "do no harm" principles that communities can use when planning, designing, and evaluating public and private projects), its benefits, and ways that NAI can be successfully applied by communities.
- StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 2: No Adverse Impact and the Legal Framework of Coastal Management (PDF, 874 KB) - Also produced by CZM in 2008, this fact sheet discusses how the NAI approach can help communities protect people and property while reducing the number of lawsuits filed against the community and greatly increasing the chances that the community will win legal challenges to their floodplain management practices.
- StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 3: Case Study - A Cape Cod Community Prevents New Residences in Floodplains (PDF, 1 MB) - This 2008 fact sheet summarizes Chatham’s zoning bylaw that designates “conservancy districts” in the town’s 100-year floodplain and specifies prohibited uses (such as filling of land and construction of residences), permitted uses (such as maintenance of existing raised roadways and installation of utilities), and special uses requiring permits (such as construction of piers and boat shelters). It also discusses the lawsuit against the bylaw and why Chatham won the case.
- StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 4: Case Study - Massachusetts Communities Reduce Storm Risk in Developed Areas (PDF, 1 MB) - Another in this series, this 2009 fact sheet summarizes Quincy’s efforts to use Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant money to help property owners elevate either utilities or entire homes above mapped base flood elevations by providing grants that pay for up to half of the engineering fees and three-quarters of the total costs of these elevation projects. It also describes Scituate’s local grant program that uses FEMA funding to pay up to 75 percent of the costs of building elevation projects, not to exceed $40,000 for any property.
Other Tools to Protect Coastal Property
- Beach Nourishment for Storm Protection - Published on page 16 of CZM’s 2002 Coastlines (PDF, 4 MB) magazine, this article discusses how adding sand and other sediment to the beach system can address erosion issues and help protect coastal properties. The article refers to Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) guidelines that were since published in 2007 (see below).
- Beach Nourishment: MassDEP's Guide to Best Management Practices for Projects in Massachusetts (PDF, 2 MB) - This 2007 guidance document establishes best management practices to minimize impacts of beach nourishment projects. In addition, the Technical Attachments to Beach Nourishment: MassDEP's Guide to Best Management Practices for Projects in Massachusetts (PDF, 1 MB) provide technical guidance regarding nourishment design to maximize longevity of the project. While published by MassDEP, CZM helped both write and review the documents.
- Coastal Landscaping - This CZM website provides information on storm-damage prevention and other benefits of appropriate landscaping approaches, step-by-step instructions on landscaping coastal areas, plant lists and photos, sample landscape plans, permitting information, and more.
- CZ-Tip - Basics of Building Beach Access Structures that Protect Dunes and Banks - Part of the CZM tips series, this tip provides details on building walkways, stairways, and boardwalks in ways that minimize their impacts.
- CZ-Tip - Dune Building with Beachgrass - This web page describes how to plant American beachgrass and how this plant helps stabilize dunes and prevent storm damage.
- StormSmart Coasts: Who to Contact and What to Do Before Building or Rebuilding - This 2014 fact sheet for property owners gives information on the permitting process for building and rebuilding projects on the Massachusetts coast, including all new buildings, repair of storm-damaged properties, additions, septic systems, seawalls, decks, and a variety of others. It provides information for coastal property owners on applicable regulations and agency contacts, an overview of the most common permits needed, and recommendations for StormSmart building techniques to better protect coastal property.
- StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 5: Raise Your Home, Lower Your Monthly Payments: Protect Buildings and Reduce Monthly Expenses with Freeboard (PDF, 753 KB) - This 2009 CZM fact sheet discusses the substantial safety benefits (reduced storm impacts) and financial benefits (reduced insurance costs) of using freeboard, which is elevating a building’s lowest floor above predicted base flood elevations.
- StormSmart Coasts Fact Sheet 6: Landscaping to Protect Your Coastal Property from Storm Damage and Flooding (PDF, 962 KB) - This 2009 fact sheet describes landscaping techniques that stabilize coastal banks and dunes and gives information on the benefits of coast-friendly landscaping.
- StormSmart Properties Fact Sheet 1: Artificial Dunes and Dune Nourishment - This CZM fact sheet, released in 2013, discusses using sand, cobble, or other sediment (of appropriate size) from offsite sources to build a new dune (i.e., mound of sediment) or add to an existing dune to protect inland areas from erosion and flooding.
- StormSmart Properties Fact Sheet 2: Controlling Overland Runoff to Reduce Coastal Erosion - This 2013 CZM fact sheet focuses on controlling runoff, which is water from rainfall, irrigation, and other sources that flows over the ground surface. Runoff flowing over a coastal bank, dune, or beach can exacerbate other coastal erosion problems, and this fact sheet provides options to reduce the quantity and speed of water flow and changes its direction to reduce erosion.
- StormSmart Properties Fact Sheet 3: Planting Vegetation to Reduce Erosion and Storm Damage - Another in this series, this 2013 CZM fact sheet (updated in 2014) discusses controlling erosion with plants—roots stabilize soil and leaves and stems break the impact of raindrops and wave splash and trap sand to build dunes.
- StormSmart Properties Fact Sheet 4: Bioengineering - Coir Rolls on Coastal Banks - This 2013 CZM fact sheet covers using a combination of deep-rooted plants and coir rolls, an erosion-control product made of natural, biodegradable materials. These long, cylindrical rolls of mesh packed with coir fibers (coconut husk fibers) can be stitched together to provide a continuous physical barrier that helps reduce erosion of exposed sediments on a bank.
- StormSmart Properties Fact Sheet 5: Bioengineering - Natural Fiber Blankets on Coastal Banks - Also released as part of this series in 2013, this fact sheet discusses combining the use of erosion-control plants with mats made of natural fibers (such as straw and coconut husk) that help reduce erosion of exposed sediments from wind, waves, and overland runoff.
- StormSmart Properties Fact Sheet 6: Sand Fencing - The final of the first six StormSmart Properties fact sheets released in 2013, this CZM fact sheet discusses how sand fencing (also called snow fencing) helps capture sand to build dunes.
- StormSmart Properties Fact Sheet 7: Repair and Reconstruction of Seawalls and Revetments - This 2016 CZM fact sheet discusses the design improvements that should be considered during repair or reconstruction project for seawalls and revetments—whether minor repairs or complete reconstruction—to reduce impacts, improve structure longevity, and minimize maintenance costs.
Management and Policy
- Applying the Massachusetts Coastal Wetlands Regulations - Published by CZM and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) in August 2017, this guidance document was developed to help Conservation Commissions evaluate projects proposed in coastal resource areas for their potential to impact the storm damage prevention and flood control interests of the Wetlands Protection Act. It gives Commissions tools, data, and information to delineate the coastal resource areas, determine resource area functions, assess potential project impacts, and evaluate whether the project meets or can be conditioned to meet the performance standards and includes step-by-step instructions, checklists, and example scenarios.
- Guidelines for Barrier Beach Management in Massachusetts (PDF, 12 MB) - Published by CZM in 1994, this report of the Massachusetts Barrier Beach Task Force was designed as a reference tool for those charged with the responsibility of preparing, reviewing, and implementing barrier beach management plans.
- The Massachusetts Barrier Beach Inventory - In 1982, CZM completed the Massachusetts Barrier Beach Inventory Project, which identified and delineated 681 barrier beaches in Massachusetts and placed them on topographic maps.
- Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Report - This 2011 report, prepared by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Massachusetts Climate Change Adaptation Advisory Committee with support from CZM, provides a broad overview of climate change impacts and includes a coastal chapter with a range of potential strategies to address sea level rise and coastal storms.
- Preparing for the Storm: Recommendations for Management of Risk from Coastal Hazards in Massachusetts (PDF, 722 KB) - This 2007 report of the Massachusetts Coastal Hazards Commission gives an overview of coastal hazards in Massachusetts, such as storms, sea level rise, and reduced sediment supplies. It also provides 29 recommendations from the Commission for addressing those hazards.
Vulnerability of Coastal Properties
- Information on Flood Hazards (PDF, 169 KB) - This public information brochure on flood hazards was developed by CZM and the communities of Duxbury, Kingston, and Plymouth in 2009 to provide concise information to residents on understanding flood risk, preventing losses, and planning ahead.
- Interpreting Federal Emergency Management Agency Flood Maps and Studies in the Coastal Zone - Updated in 2017, this publication developed by CZM in cooperation with the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Flood Hazard Management Program, provides guidance on how to use Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Maps and Studies to better understand the potential effects of flooding on buildings, properties, and the underlying natural resource areas. This information can be used by homeowners and consultants to ensure that the safest possible coastal projects are designed, as well as by public officials to successfully evaluate projects to ensure they are designed to minimize storm damage, protect public safety, and reduce the financial burden on individuals and municipalities from losses due to coastal storms.
- Mapping and Analysis of Privately-Owned Coastal Structures along the Massachusetts Shoreline - Prepared for CZM in 2013 by Applied Science Associates, Inc., this technical report documents the location and type of privately owned coastal structures (such as seawalls and revetments), and combined with inventories of other structures, provides a comprehensive assessment of shoreline armoring coast-wide.
- Massachusetts Coastal Infrastructure Inventory and Assessment Project Reports (Publicly Owned Structures) - Prepared for CZM and the Department of Conservation and Recreation from 2006 to 2009, these reports include condition ratings and estimated repair or reconstruction costs for publically owned seawalls, revetments, groins, jetties, and other coastal structures.
- Massachusetts Shoreline Change Project - This CZM website describes how and why shorelines change, gives an overview of CZM’s Shoreline Change Project, and discusses how to use the Shoreline Change Browser and interpret trends from the mid-1800s to 2009.
- Massachusetts Shoreline Change Project, 2013 Update - Developed collaboratively by the U.S. Geological Survey and CZM and released in 2013, this report provides information on rates and trends of shoreline change from 1844 through 2009. New coast-wide shoreline data were developed for approximately 1,121 miles of shoreline using color aerial orthoimagery from 2008 and 2009 and topographic Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) data from 2007. The report was done in conjunction with CZM’s Massachusetts Shoreline Change Project.
- Sea Level Rise and Coastal Flooding Viewer - This tool developed by CZM provides interactive maps of potential coastal flooding of public facilities and infrastructure based on: sea level rise scenarios, Federal Emergency Management Agency coastal flood zones, and hurricane surge models. Examples of mapped facilities include: electrical generation facilities, fire stations, hospitals, police stations, town/city halls, and wastewater treatment plants.
- South Shore Coastal Hazards Characterization Atlas - Prepared for CZM in 2005 by Applied Coastal Research and Engineering, Inc., this document was designed to assist local officials in the communities from Hull down 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.
- Visualization of Inundation of Critical Coastal Facilities Due to Flood Events and Sea-Level Rise (PDF, 6 MB) - Prepared for CZM in 2009 by Applied Science Associates, Inc., this technical report provides a detailed methodology to develop photorealistic 3D models of inundation scenarios, based on a pilot project where 3D models were developed for five flooding scenarios at seven critical facilities around Hull.
Climate Change and Sea Level Rise
- Sea Level Rise: Understanding and Applying Trends and Future Scenarios for Analysis and Planning (PDF, 3 MB) - This 2013 guidance document was developed by CZM to help coastal communities and others plan for and address potential sea level rise effects on residential and commercial development, infrastructure and critical facilities, and natural resources and ecosystems. The document includes background information on local and global sea level rise trends, summarizes the best available sea level rise projections, and provides general guidance in the selection and application of sea level rise scenarios for coastal vulnerability assessments, planning, and decision making for areas that may be at present or future risk from the effects of sea level rise. The document is intended to be updated as new science and information becomes available.
- CZ-Science: Sea Level Rise and Shrinking Salt Marsh - This article on page 72 of CZM’s 2008 Coastlines (PDF, 9 MB) magazine explains the impacts of sea level rise on salt marsh, focusing on the North Shore’s Great Marsh.
- Global Climate Change—Leading by Example in Massachusetts - On page 3 of the 2008 Coastlines (PDF, 9 MB), this piece discusses efforts in Massachusetts to address climate change impacts.
- Global Warming for Dummies - This 2008 Coastlines (PDF, 9 MB) article (on page 75) gives an overview of the extreme and relatively sudden climate changes that are occurring as a result of the human-induced buildup of “greenhouse gases” in the atmosphere.
Hurricanes and Northeasters
- Blizzard of '78 Photo Gallery - This photo gallery chronicles the coastal impacts in Massachusetts from this 1978 "Storm of the Century."
- Coastlines 2002: Hurricanes (PDF, 4 MB) - This edition of CZM’s magazine focuses on hurricanes and includes articles on getting prepared for hurricane season, major hurricanes that have hit New England, hurricane tracking, and several storm-damage prevention topics.
- CZ-Tip - The Complete Guide to Online Hurricane Tracking for Massachusetts - This tip from CZM gives links to important resources for tracking hurricanes and predicting and assessing their potential impacts.
- CZ-Tip - Tracking Nor'easters and Staying Safe in the Storm - Another CZM tip, this web page provides links to information on winter weather forecasts and includes links to information on the dangers of these storms and how to stay safe.
- Hurricane Preparedness Kit - This CZM web page includes links to information on hurricanes, hurricane tracking, and protecting your home, family, pets, and boat from hurricane impacts.
- Massachusetts Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards (PDF, 3 MB) - Updated in 2020, this document provides information to coastal homeowners on how to stay safe and minimize damages during hurricanes and northeasters. The handbook was developed by the Woods Hole and Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sea Grant programs with the assistance of CZM, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the National Weather Service.