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Q: Climate Change and Martha's Vineyard Real Estate Value ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Climate Change and Martha's Vineyard Real Estate Value
Category: Science > Earth Sciences
Asked by: winnemack-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 11 May 2006 05:09 PDT
Expires: 10 Jun 2006 05:09 PDT
Question ID: 727641
What are the predictions for the effects of climate change for the
northeast Atlantic Coast, specifically impact on Martha's Vineyard?

(I am interested in assessing a potential real estate transaction so
wondering about potential flooding, storms, catastrophic erosion etc.
over the next 50 years)

Request for Question Clarification by pafalafa-ga on 11 May 2006 06:27 PDT

Good pays to think ahead, these days.

Take a look at the map of Martha's Vineyard at this link: 

Click on the file named 'Martha's Vineyard'.

The map shows areas most likely to be impacted by sea level rise
caused by global climate change -- the areas in red would be hit first
by a modest change in sea level, then those in blue are in danger from
a more severe change.

Is that the sort of information you're looking for?  What additional
information would you like to make for a complete answer to your

Looking forward to hearing from you,


Clarification of Question by winnemack-ga on 11 May 2006 13:22 PDT
I hope I'm doing this right - haven't used this service before.

Ok, the map is interesting. Is there any information on the
definitions of "modest" and "severe" -- e.g., modest = a 2 inch rise
in sea level and severe is 2 feet (completely wild guess) and/or any
estimate of the time in which "modest" or "severe" might occur given
current and predicted rates of sea rise?

If we can go further, information about trends for the area would also
be helpful -- e.g., I have heard from one source that the region has
not experienced as much of a rise from thermal expansion as other
areas, do you find confirmation of that? Is there any information on
trends in changing weather patterns (e.g., hurricanes, nor'easters, or
anything that could exacerbate the rise in sea level).

Thanks so much -- the map is truly interesting and anything to help
understand what those colors really show would be a big step right
Subject: Re: Climate Change and Martha's Vineyard Real Estate Value
Answered By: pafalafa-ga on 14 May 2006 07:13 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars

I've unearthed some additional information on climate change, and its
expected impact on areas in and around Cape Cod.

However, please be aware that this is all guesswork.  Highly educated
and sophisticated guesswork, no doubt, but guesswork just the same.

Although scientists have become increasingly confident about the big
picture of climate change -- the fact that it is, indeed, taking
place, and that pollution is a large factor in the changes -- there is
much less certainty about how climate change will unfold at a local
level, and what the pace of changes will be.

Here are the best guesses thus far:

Climate Change And Massachusetts

...Over the last century, the average temperature in Amherst,
Massachusetts, has increased 2F, and precipitation has increased by
up to 20% in many parts of the state. Over the next century, climate
in Massachusetts may change even more. 2100 temperatures in Massachusetts could increase by about 4F
(with a range of 1-8F) in winter and spring and about 5F (with a
range of 2-10F) in summer and fall. Precipitation is estimated to
increase by about 10% in spring and summer, 15% in fall, and 20-60% in

...The amount of precipitation on extreme wet or snowy days in winter
is likely to increase. The frequency of extreme hot days in summer
would increase because of the general warming trend. Although it is
not clear how severe storms such as hurricanes would change, an
increase in the frequency and intensity of winter storms is possible.

...Sea level rise could lead to flooding of low-lying property, loss
of coastal wetlands, erosion of beaches, saltwater contamination of
drinking water, and decreased longevity of low-lying roads, causeways,
and bridges. In addition, sea level rise could increase the
vulnerability of coastal areas to storms and associated flooding.

...At Boston, sea level already is rising by 11 inches per century,
and it is likely to rise another 22 inches by 2100. Rising sea levels
are taking a toll on Massachusetts? coastal upland.

...Each year, an average of 65 acres of upland is submerged by a
combination of rising seas and subsiding land. Much of this loss
occurs along the south-facing coast between Rhode Island and the outer
shore of Cape Cod, including the islands of Nantucket and Martha?s

...Possible responses to sea level rise include building walls to hold
back the sea, allowing the sea to advance and adapting to it, and
raising the land (e.g., by replenishing beach sand, elevating houses
and infrastructure). Each of these responses will be costly, either in
out-of-pocket costs or in lost land and structures. For example, the
cumulative cost of sand replenishment to protect the coast of
Massachusetts from a 20-inch sea level rise by 2100 is estimated at
$490 million to $2.6 billion.

The figure titled "Future Sea Level Rise At Woods Hole, Cape Cod"
shows that by 2100, the likelihood of sea level rising is:

at least 10 inches -- 95% chance

about 20 inches -- 50% chance

almost 40 inches -- 5% chance

In other words, the report indicates that there is likely to be a
substantial rise in sea level in the area around Cape Cod.  In the
past century, sea level rose about 11 inches, and in the century to
come, the pace of sea level rise is likely to be much
least 10 inches and perhaps as much as 40 inches.


USEPA Coastal Maps$File/massc.pdf
?Maps of Lands Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise: Modeled Elevations Along
the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts"

These are the source of the maps (including the map I linked to
earlier) that show the coastal areas that are most vulnerable to sea
level changes.

The actual presentation of the maps is pretty confusing, as they talk
about sea level rises of at least 1.5 meters (almost five feet!). 
However, for professional mapping reasons, the rise is measured
against a 1929 baseline, rather than the current actual shoreline.  In
effect, the actual rise needed to impact the red areas on the map is
only about 3 feet above the current mean high tide.

Here's an excerpt from the report, which you might want to look at in full:

Publications for the General Public: If possible, the aforementioned
caveat should be printed; but sometimes space constraints will make
that impossible. We recommend that as much of the following be
included as possible: ?Elevations based on computer models, not actual
surveys. Coastal protection efforts may prevent some low-lying areas
from being flooded as sea level rises. The 1.5-meter contour depicted
is currently about 1.3-meters [use local estimate if possible] above
mean sea level, and is typically 90 cm [use local estimate if
possible] above mean high tide. Parts of the area depicted in red will
be above mean sea level for at least 100 years and probably 200 years
[use local estimates if possible]. The 3.5-meter contour illustrates
the area that might be flooded over a period of several centuries.?


The actual EPA map showing details of Cape Cod is here:$File/massc.pdf

Again, the areas in red are those that would be most affected by a sea
level rise of about 3 feet (or less) above mean high tide.  A rise of
this magnitude is expected by many observers by the end of the
century, and perhaps much sooner...the pace of climate change and sea
level rise is simply not very well characterized at this point.


Forthcoming Products

Note that EPA plans to release more updated and detailed reports for
Massachusetts in the next year or so...keep an eye on this link in the
months ahead for updated information:

Sea Level Rise Planning Maps

...EPA is also developing maps that depict ?at the county level? the
land likely to be protected from rising sea level and the land likely
to be inundated. EPA is developing these maps both to improve
assessments of the impacts, and to help coastal decision makers plan
for sea level rise.

...Planned for Next Year: New York, Massachusetts, Texas, Alabama,
Mississippi, South Florida


A different take on pretty much some of the same EPA information:$File/maps.pdf

Maps of Lands Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise:
Modeled Elevations along the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf Coasts

...Recent assessments indicated that a one-meter rise in sea level is
likely to occur over a period of two hundred years, but could occur as
soon as the year 2100.

...We warn the reader at the outset that this article presents
elevations, not future shorelines. This limitation may disappoint
those who would like to be able to say which areas will be underwater
if sea level rises a meter or so, but our limited resources left us
with no choice but to limit the scope of these maps. Nevertheless, we
hope that this approach may find favor among those who would not be
inclined to automatically trust our best guess of future erosion,
wetland accretion, and land use decisions regarding the areas that
will be protected by coastal engineering measures. Elevation does not
by itself tell us what will be under water if sea level rises a meter
or so; but it is the most important single fact for anyone trying to
answer that question.


The EPA evaluations seem to be the most current and complete
information available, and have been used by other organizations to
prepare materials regarding shoreline changes in Massachusetts:
Climate Change Impacts in Massachusetts
The Nature Conservancy

...Tidal wetlands throughout coastal Massachusetts are at risk of
flooding due to sea-level rise.

...Sea-level rise will have a direct impact on human life as well.
Since 1950, mean relative sea level measured near Boston has risen by
5-6 inches and the rate is accelerating. Based on current rates of
sea-level rise in Massachusetts, more than 5 percent of the land area
of coastal communities such as Gloucester and Marshfield?equaling 278
and 1013 acres respectively?will be underwater by the end of this

The contact person for more information about climate change and
Massachusetts at The Nature Conservancy is:

Sarah Murdock
Senior Policy Advisor
Global Climate Change Initiative
The Nature Conservancy
(617) 542-1908 x204


Another fact sheet on climate change in Massachusetts can be found here:
Effects of Global Warming in Massachusetts

...Massachusetts loses an average of 65 acres to rising sea levels
each year. Much of this loss occurs along the south-facing coast
between Rhode Island and the outer shore of Cape Cod, including the
islands of Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard. Coastal land lost due to
erosion is not included. At Boston, sea level is rising 11 inches per
century, and it is likely to rise another 22 inches by 2100.


You asked specifically about storms, and there's some interesting
information in that regard.

Climate change can certainly include an increase in severe weather
events, although once again, the actual impacts at the local level are
difficult to predict with any certainty.  Still, insurance companies
are beginning to respond with weather models that take into account
more severe storm activity in the future:
Hurricane risk hikes insurance on Cape 

...A new storm model, which raises the probability that a hurricane
would hit Cape Cod, has driven up insurance companies' overhead. As a
result, many have stopped renewing policies. The latest announcement
came from the Andover Companies, which announced that it will not
renew any of its 14,000 policies on Cape Cod...

...Insurance companies that keep doing business on Cape Cod are
raising their rates, so whether homeowners have to find new insurance,
or stick with their current policy, they are almost sure to pay


That's about all there is in the way of quantitative information about
the particular areas of interest to you.

Keeping tabs on the EPA's sites, and contacting some of the groups in
your are active in the climate change debate would be good ways to
keep yourself up-to-date as new information develops.

I trust this is the sort of information you were looking for.

However, if there's anything more I can do for you, don't hesitate to
ask.  Just post a Request for Clarification, and I'm at your service.

All the best,


search strategy -- Google searches on combinations of:

cape cod

martha's vineyard

climate change

sea level 

winnemack-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Very well done. I'm very happy with the process -- and this is exactly
what i was looking for -- the researcher has saved me an immense
amount of time combing through sites to find this information.

There are no comments at this time.

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