Rising Sea Levels Boston Harbor Case the Research Paper

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Rising Sea Levels: Boston Harbor Case

The change in the climate of our planet is mainly a result of the increase in the global temperatures and the greenhouse gases. These gases and the rise in temperatures have affected our planet in many different ways. One of the most serious issues caused by these increased greenhouse gases and rise in temperatures is the increase in the water levels of sea. It has been observed that each year the sea water level on the eastern coast of the United States is increasing by up to 3mm (Church, & White 2011).

The buildings that lie near the shores are greatly threatened by this increase in the water levels. Now, the two most important concerns of the shore protection are to deal with the damages done by the waves and the coastal flooding and how to prevent these damages (Morang, 2006, chapter V-3, para. 1). The reason why the floods and waves are considered to be doing more damage is the fact that there exists a direct relation between the height of the water levels and the severity of the floods. Although it will takes hundreds of years for the water to actually overtake the buildings but still even a little increase in the water levels impacts the number and severity of the storms, which will start affecting the buildings very soon.

The major aim of our project was to find out ways through which we can build the buildings in such a way that they could adapt to the rising sea levels in a better manner. Upon the completion of our aim we gave a paper with various options and business memo to The Boston Harbor Association (TBHA); which we to then forward to the mayor. In these recommendations we have kept in mind the new as well as the old structures that will be renovated according to the rising sea levels. Therefore, our instructions and recommendations cater to the new as well as the old buildings and structures. Our recommendations have varying costs, how they can be implemented and the extent to which these implementations can be carried on. We have also searched about the legalities involved with some of the renovations such as the zoning codes and modification of the buildings. These legalities have also been mentioned in the documents (Beaulieu et al., 2011).


Global warming is a phenomenon that has mainly resulted from the increase in the greenhouse gases in the earth's atmosphere. The increased trend of the burning of fossil fuels in the past few centuries has also contributed to this increase in the temperatures to a great extent. All this increase in the greenhouse gases and the increase in temperature have affected the sea water levels which have started to increase (Chan, 2007).

Due to this increase in the sea levels many coastal areas have started to get affected whereas, there are still many that have a chance of getting affected in the future. Plans need to be made by the authorities responsible for the coastal areas to ensure that necessary protective measures are being taken to protect the infrastructure as well as the people living in those areas. Places like Venice and Italy have already started to take the necessary measures to avoid future damages. All over the world the coastal areas are getting affected as the shorelines are changing as well, when those areas were established there was no such thing as global warming and therefore, this factor wasn't taken into consideration. However, the regulatory authorities and the governments of those particular areas need to make the necessary adjustments in order to avoid and minimize future damages (Chan, 2007).

Boston Harbor is among those sites in the world that are endangered due to the rise in the water levels. The authorities need to take some immediate actions in order to ensure that the buildings and the undeveloped areas in Boston Harbor aren't lost to the long-term flooding and storms. More and more land is coming under water as a result of the increase in the sea levels, due to this there is a huge chance that people will start losing their lands and businesses and in the worst case scenarios their lives as well. Therefore, the authorities concerned with the protection of Boston Harbor need to implement strategies and plans to ensure that the buildings and infrastructure is safe and protected against the upcoming floods and waves (City of Boston, 2011; CFR, 2011; Chan, 2007).

The buildings in the Massachusetts state have been build in such a way that they can withstand the flooding that results from the heavy rainfall. However, even those buildings can't deal with the increasing sea levels as; they were not built in accordance with the changing global climate. Some recent studies suggest that, on the eastern coast of the United States, the sea levels are increasing in the range of 2.8-0.8 to 3.2 -0.2 mm/year (Church & White, 2011). This increase has been seen by the satellite images. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the buildings should be made adaptable to the floods that are only going to get worse in the future.

Although it might seem like a few millimeters each year isn't a big deal, however, the impact of these few millimeters on the upcoming floods is huge and this will keep getting worse as time will go by and the sea level will keep on rising. Many of Boston's waterfront properties will be facing a lot of damage. For example; George Island is a small island that is located in the Boston Harbor and is merely 15 meters above the sea level. This island has the historical Fort Warren and in case it gets damaged by the floods it would result in the loss or damage of a historical building (Kirshen, Knee, & Ruth, 2008).

Although a lot of scholarly literature can be found on the increase in temperatures and the raised sea levels, however, at the moment there isn't much data available on the sea levels near Boston Harbor. The planners need to carefully examine the whole situation before coming up with a solution for this problem of increased sea level. However, the thing that needs to be kept in mind here is that most of the City of Boston isn't much higher than the sea level as it is built on the filled grounds. Therefore, the planners need to keep in mind the fact that the waterfront is the first line of defense in case of floods and storms. If the waterfront is made in such a way that it would stand its ground in case of floods then the rest of the city can be saved from the dangers of the floods to a large extent (City of Boston, 2011).

Hence, the aim of our project is to highlight the best adaptation techniques and figure out how they can be utilized in the construction of the new buildings and the renovations done to the older buildings.

Historical background to the selected issue

Icecaps in the northern and southern regions of our planet have been melting due to the global warming. These melting icecaps have resulted in an increase in the water levels in different areas. Along with the melting of the icecaps the flooding that took place in the New England in the past have resulted in an increase in the usual floods and this ultimately has started to affect the areas that were considered to be safe in the past (City of Boston, 2011).

The Boston Harbor Association has realized the problems that are being caused by the increased sea levels and it has realized the need for adaptation in order to ensure that the Boston Harbor remains safe and an enjoyable place for the people to visit and live near (City of Boston, 2011).

Key concerns

What makes Boston's situation even more serious is the fact that it lies very near to the ocean. Also, most of the infrastructure in Boston has been built on the landfill which is hardly above the sea level. All this increases the risks of Boston getting affected by the floods and storms in the future. There already are some places in Boston which have been affected by the floods and the low heights at which the buildings have been build increases the risks of Boston getting affected from the floods, which will only get worse in the future (City of Boston, 2011).

There is a much better chance of Boston dealing with the floods in the future if the planners and the authorities observe and learn about the SLR's past patterns (City of Boston, 2011).

Firstly, the mean historical sea levels have been provided by numerous researches for the Boston Harbor area. The average sea level trend has been shown in Figure 1 around Boston. According to this data an increase of 2.63 millimeters per year can be observed in the mean SLR trend with…

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