Climate change may not have been as prominent in the headlines in the 1980s as it is today, but it was certainly on the minds of engineers designing a new sewage-treatment plant for Boston.
Today, the massive Deer Island plant can boast of being one of the first major coastal projects that had a nearly 2-foot rise in sea level designed into its construction. That is good news to area residents because the plant — one of the nation’s largest — handles sewage from 61 Boston area municipalities and 2.5 million customers.
When Sandy blew into East Coast communities a year ago, it was flooding that did the most damage.
That's in part because the average sea level has risen over the past century — about a foot along the mid-Atlantic coast. That made it easier for the storm to push the ocean onto the land.
And scientists say there will be many more Sandy-style storms — that is, torrential rain and wind that create heavy coastal flooding — and they'll be more frequent than in the past. But preparing people for that means changing the way they live, and that's proving politically difficult.
Superstorm Sandy wreaked $28 million worth of havoc in Massachusetts a year ago October, cutting power to 400,000 customers and forcing evacuations in low-lying areas from Dartmouth to Plum Island.
It could have been much worse.
(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) On the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy laying waste to the New Jersey coastline and flooding New York City – and giving Boston a long, hard soaking – Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino and city officials and environmentalists reviewed progress on the city’s efforts to prepare for further climate change and severe weather events.
One year ago, when Superstorm Sandy devastated much of New Jersey and New York City, the event sparked an intense national discussion about an issue that had gone mysteriously undiscussed during the presidential campaign: climate change.
We think of the sea level rise projected by climate scientists as a gradual thing, like water filling up a bathtub. Warmer water expands, glaciers melt, and pieces of the great ice caps break off and drop into the sea like ice cubes into a glass of water, pushing the water-line higher.
But there was nothing gradual about the rising of seas off New York and New Jersey a year ago this week. Pushed by Superstorm Sandy, a 14-foot storm surge rose up and hit New York Harbor in just a few hours.
"Rising sea levels exacerbate flooding," Tufts University geologist Andrew Kemp says. "As sea level rises, smaller and weaker storms will cause flood damage."
In a new web video, released ahead of the anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, the Environmental League of Massachusetts Action Fund is calling on Boston’s two mayoral candidates to release detailed plans to protect the city from extreme weather events linked to climate change.
The 20-second video, released Thursday, is titled “Boylston River” and shows a man drifting down a flooded Boylston Street.
NEW BRUNSWICK — Scientists gathered at Rutgers University Monday to talk about what they’ve learned of climate and change at the Shore since Sandy — and many of them don’t like what they’re seeing.
“We were supposed to be rebuilding smarter. I don’t see that. Do you?” asked geology professor Kenneth G. Miller, whose research has focused on sea-level changes. “We don’t like scare tactics...but we are looking at two, three feet of rise (in this century) and we have to prepare for that.”