Monday, April 4
Rising Sea Levels Threaten Massachusetts Coast, Sea Walls
There’s no question about it. Sea levels are rising. 65 acres of Massachusetts coastline is taken back by the sea each year. Over the last century, ocean waters have crept up a full foot along the New England coast and new research shows that rate will only increase, with some estimates predicting an additional 3-foot rise by the end of this century. Our defense against the rising tide are sea walls. A 2009 state-commissioned report found that overall, 92 percent of Massachusetts’ more than 1,300 seawalls were considered stable, with 8 percent needed repair. But it also warned that most sea walls were older than 50 years — a sea wall’s expected life. In Scituate, 400 homes were damaged when one of those seawalls failed dramatically during a storm last December. Is that incident a harbinger of things to come? We discuss that with State Rep. James Cantwell, from the 4th Plymouth District (Marshfield & Scituate)—He filed legislation for the state to create a low-interest loan program to help communities offset the estimated $1 billion price tag to repair sea walls and fortify them against rising sea levels—and Heather Goldstone, WCAI science editor and author of the blog Climatide.
Read recent coverage about New England sea level rise in the Boston Globe