Efforts to Prepare for Changing Coastlines Up for Discussion in Connecticut

Written by Lisa Hayden on . Posted in Learn

Hurricane Irene in ConnecticutAlmost six months since Hurricane Irene roared up the Atlantic coast with a wake-up call to the ever-present threat of coastal storms and flooding, The Nature Conservancy in Connecticut is continuing its efforts to assist coastal communities and residents to plan ahead.

Check out this recent article by The Connecticut Mirror, a web-based newspaper focusing on state government, that examines various mapping and planning tools available to municipalities and coastal regions. One of those resources is the Conservancy’s free online Coastal Resilience tool, which helps people visualize how today’s shorelines are likely to change (and in some cases disappear underwater) in the years ahead as future storms combine with gradually rising seas.

“You start going from the coast of Connecticut to an archipelago,” says Adam Whelchel, an ecologist and the Conservancy’s director of science in Connecticut, in the article. “This really wakes people up.”

A report the Conservancy expects to release in late February shows what might be in store if a category three hurricane took more direct aim at Long Island and the Connecticut coast. With existing sea level rise, such a storm would result in temporary flooding of nearly 45,000 acres in Connecticut, including 10 airports, five train stations, 645 miles of road and 131 miles of train tracks.

And even without a hurricane, the report indicates that by the 2020s, sea level rise alone could permanently flood six airports, 94 miles of road and 20 miles of train tracks.

During the upcoming Connecticut legislative session, The Conservancy will introduce a bill to authorize the state and towns to consider a projected rate of sea level rise as a factor to consider in certain planning and regulatory programs.

Stay tuned to Planet Change to learn more about local and state-level efforts to prepare for our changing climate.

Lisa Hayden is a writer and blogger for The Nature Conservancy

Thumbnail photo by: Flickr user dwrichards (New Haven Harbor wetlands with downtown in background)

Inset photo by: Flickr user Jerry Angelica Photography (Hurricane Irene in Milford, Connecticut)

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Comments (1)

  • Tom Moriarty


    The most commonly quoted sea level rise projection for the 21st century is from Vermeer and Rahmstorf (PNAS, 2009). They relied on 20th century sea level data from Church and White (Geophysical Research Letters, 2006). Church and White built their sea level data from the tide gauge data at the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL).

    You can see the entire set of PSMSL tide gauge data, set to music no less, here…


    It is a fun way to look for sea level rise acceleration.


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