All-Island selectmen’s meeting hears presentation on rising seas

Areas shown in yellow would be flooded by a sea level increase of 1 meter (3 feet, 3 inches), according to the VCS presentation. Areas shown in red would be inundated by an additional 1 meter of sea level rise. — Photo by Vineyard Conservation Society

Vineyard Conservation Society (VCS) board member Phil Henderson says that, soon after the end of the century, Beach Road from the drawbridge to Five Corners in Vineyard Haven will be flooded and that harbor waters in Oak Bluffs could expand across East Chop Drive — if ocean levels due to forecast global warming continue to rise.

Mr. Henderson will describe these and other possible impacts of sea level rise on Martha’s Vineyard in a presentation Thursday night at the All-Island selectmen’s meeting at 7 pm at the Tisbury Senior Center.

Mr. Henderson, a former VCS president, put the presentation together as part of the organization’s “Rising Seas Awareness Project.” He will be joined by Stephen McKenna, Cape Cod and Islands Regional Coordinator for the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM).

The presentation illustrates the sea level rise predicted for Martha’s Vineyard based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) “high” forecast for greenhouse gas emissions. Mr. Henderson also culled information from several other studies, including one the state did about a year ago that focuses on the Massachusetts coastline.

Mr. Henderson said the VCS board’s education and public advocacy committee launched the awareness project this year out of concern that information about the sea level forecasts for Martha’s Vineyard is not getting enough attention.

The presentation includes maps that illustrate the impact of a sea level increase from one to two meters in familiar areas of Martha’s Vineyard.

“This is an educational effort, in the hope that the all-Island selectmen, the towns and others will begin a long-term conversation about this,” said Mr. Henderson, a retired urban and regional planner. “We are very pleased the state has been proactive, and we hope that our contributions on Thursday evening will help Vineyarders become better informed.”