From the Chappaquiddick Point to the cranberry bogs in Aquinnah, new forecasts show that no part of the Island will be immune from the impacts of sea level rise. New maps showing a drastically different Island coastline are part of the Vineyard Conservation Society’s Rising Seas Awareness Project. The maps will be shown and discussed at a talk tonight hosted by the All-Island Selectmen’s Association. The speakers are VCS board member Phil Henderson and Steve McKenna, a regional planner for the state Coastal Zone Management program. The theme is cooperation and planning to help soften the impact on the Island’s infrastructure and economy.
Created by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and staff cartographer Chris Seidel, the maps show the estimated sea level rise on the Vineyard based on the International Panel on Climate Change’s “high” forecast for greenhouse emissions and other factors.
The maps show two different levels of sea rise: the first level of three feet and three inches is forecast to happen between 2050 and 2070, according to the presentation. An additional metre of sea level rise, or six feet and seven inches, is estimated to happen between 2100 and 2120.
The maps do not show flooding from high tides or storm surges.
According to the maps, by the beginning of the next century, water could nearly surround the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, and most of Beach Road could be flooded.
The Sunset Lake area of Oak Bluffs, including down Dukes County avenue and halfway up School street, could also be under water, as could the Chappy point and both terminals for the Chappy Ferry. In Chilmark, coastal saltwater ponds would be pushed inland and barrier beaches reshaped.
One of the hardest hit areas in the early 2100s, according to the projections, would be Katama, where water could come inland as far as Katama Road and the southernmost field of Katama Farm. There are more than 100 homes in the potentially affected area.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Tisbury Senior Center.
For an in-depth look at the sea level rise maps, see our gallery: Vineyard Conservation Society's Rising Seas Awareness Project.