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ResilientWoodsHole is working to secure the future of the vibrant and productive seaside village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, in the face of major climate impacts.

FACT: ECONOMIC IMPACT

$385M

Collectively, WHOI, MBL and NOAA Fisheries employ over 1,710 individuals, have a combined annual budget of over $385M, and conduct $256M in research annually.

Why adapt to climate change?

With roots in whaling, shipping, and fishing, Woods Hole has been a bustling working waterfront and marine commerce hub for more than two centuries. Today, Woods Hole is a world-renown center for scientific research and education, and a charming residential and commercial village that attracts both summer residents and tourists. Along with its coastline businesses and homes, the major marine research institutions in Woods Hole have significant waterfront infrastructures, providing necessary easy access to the sea.

Relative sea level increased by approximately 10 inches in Woods Hole between 1932 and 2020, according to NOAA. This trend is predicted to accelerate as the ocean expands due to global warming and glacial ice melt.

Woods Hole’s vulnerability to sea-level rise, storm surge inundation, and habitat changes, such as marshland transforming to open water, was assessed in detail in 2020 by the Woods Hole Group. A copy of the report is here.

Climate impacts were projected over 10, 40, and 60-year time horizons. By 2070, the report predicts, most of the village will be inundated by flooding on an annual basis. The report made it clear that resiliency planning to protect village infrastructure and habitat needed to begin immediately. Thus, the ResilientWoodsHole initiative was born.

Sea-level rise and storm surge present both existential and operational threats to Woods Hole village’s marine science facilities as well as to the commercial and residential infrastructure within the village. Often it is not viable or sustainable to adapt assets to sea-level rise and/or storm surge in a vacuum. It can also be more efficient and have greater benefit to deploy adaptation solutions on a wider scale to address shared risk rather than addressing each specific flood vulnerability on a case-by-case basis.

Woods Hole, Mass. study area
Up to 50 acres of upland in Woods Hole, MA study area could transition to coastal wetland by end of century.

What are we doing about it?

Woods Hole is home to world-renowned scientific organizations, a vibrant business and residential community, and serves as a vital ferry link to the island of Martha’s Vineyard. With a mission-focused need to be proximate to the sea, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA) initiated the development of a long-range framework to prepare for sea-level rise and increasing extreme weather events. A cooperative effort is underway to assess these threats and jointly develop solutions that frame responses for the broader Woods Hole community.

Steering Committee

ResilientWoodsHole is advised by a broad group of stakeholder representatives as empaneled on the Steering Committee.

Committee Member Organization
Rob Munier WHOI
Leslie-Ann McGee WHOI
Paul Speer MBL
Nicole Cabana NOAA NMFS NEFSC
Nathan Keith NOAA NMFS NEFSC
Adam Reed NOAA NMFS NEFSC
CDR Paul Mangini USCG
Bob Davis  Steamship Authority
Rob Thieler USGS
Beth Colt Woods Hole Business Association
Zach Zobel Woodwell Climate Research Center
Peter Johnson-Staub Town of Falmouth – Acting Town Manager
Jen Lincoln Town of Falmouth – Conservation Commission
Jed Cornock Town of Falmouth - Town Planner
Amy Lowell Town of Falmouth – Wastewater Dept
Pam Harvey Community Liaison
Peter Jeffrey Community Liaison
Judy Laster Community Liaison
Steve McKenna MA Office of Coastal Zone Management
Peg Brandon Sea Education Association
Shannon Hulst Barnstable County Floodplain Manager/WHOI Sea Grant

 

Steering Committee Members can access the Steering Committee Portal here.

Leadership

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI)
Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL)
NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA Fisheries)

Partners

While the initiative draws upon and engages a wide variety of stakeholders, ResilientWoodsHole is led by a collaboration between WHOI, MBL, and NOAA Fisheries. The Town of Falmouth, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, and the Woods Hole Group are active partners in this initiative.

FACT: INFRASTRUCTURE

$110.7M Revenue

2019 transportation to the islands from Woods Hole:

22,949 trips
3,004,436 passengers
478,990 autos
195,328 trucks

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