January 24, 2014

MIT Sea Grant's coastal ecologist gives talk: "Climate Change and Storm Preparedness in New England”

As part of the lecture series, “Climate Change in Your Backyard”, MIT Sea Grant’s Juliet Simpson made a presentation entitled, “Climate Change and Storm Preparedness in New England".

The series of talks held in Kingston, MA are sponsored by the organizations; Jones River Watershed Association, Mass. Bays Program, and North and South Rivers Watershed Association. Attendees include representatives from local non-profit organizations, conservation agents, and South Shore homeowners.

Simpson, a coastal ecologist, focused her presentation on the importance of preparing for large storms. She pointed out that expectations for increased storms in New England are predicted to be more intense and cause more flooding than in prior years. She also emphasized the importance of understanding that climate change is not way off in the future, but that it is a current reality that stands to become more challenging as time goes by. She noted that just because the area may not have been hit by one of the major storms in recent years, future storms may occur at high tides, which statistically increases the chance of being affected.

Simpson offered area residents several suggestions for protecting their homes now. These include small inexpensive steps such as installing a water alarm in one's basement, as well as storing basement items in watertight containers. Other options involve more expensive and long-term projects such as elevating one’s house. Simpson also handed out copies of the Massachusetts Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards, which she co-authored with experts from WHOI Sea Grant.

The talk was recorded for broadcast on the local public access cable channel and may be viewed here .

In addition to participating in the workshop series, Simpson is currently collaborating with the Jones River Watershed Association to monitor physical changes in the Jones River estuary using solar-powered, wireless cameras which stream live video data to servers at MIT. This enables continuous monitoring of marsh condition while minimizing physical disturbance to the fragile marsh ecosystem.