Sea Level Rise on Block Island

The Town of New Shoreham has identified sea level rise as an issue that requires careful planning and public involvement. A Sea Level Rise (SLR) Committee was created with the mission “to understand the potential local impacts posed by sea level rise, assess the community’s vulnerabilities, engage citizens, and assist the town to assess, recommend, and implement mitigation projects or other priority actions that will improve Block Island’s coastal resiliency.”So, how does a small coastal town respond?On Block Island, areas vulnerable to sea level rise include Crescent Beach, Corn Neck Road, Bridgegate Square, Ocean and Beach Avenues, Spring Street, the ferry docks (Block Island and Galilee), the Great Salt Pond, dunes, bluffs, and several marshes. Low-lying areas contain critical island infrastructure (power, water, and sewage lines), businesses (gas station, grocery, bars, restaurants, marinas, stores), and, if flooded, can cut-off access to fire/rescue services and the power company (Figure 1).Sea level rise driven by changes in the global climate is a risk to the coastal United States today and well into the future. Sea levels will continue to rise due to the ocean’s response to atmospheric warming that has already occurred, even if no further atmospheric warming were to

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