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ResilientWoodsHole is a private-public initiative in collaboration between three major science institutions in Woods Hole, MA, and key local stakeholders, including the business, residential and science communities, and the Town of Falmouth, MA. The goal of the initiative is to ensure the vibrant and productive village of Woods Hole prospers well into the future with the advent of major climate impacts such as sea-level rise, coastal flooding, shoreline loss, and associated challenges.

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.


The Challenge:

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.


The Solution:

With a common interest in preserving direct access to the sea and continuing operations of each institution, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI), Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric administration (NOAA) initiated a cooperative effort to assess threats from climate change and sea level rise and jointly develop solutions. This effort was the formation of the ResilientWoodsHole (RWH) initiative. In the first two phases of the initiative, RWH identified vulnerable buildings and lifeline infrastructure in Woods Hole. In phase 3 of RWH included community outreach and involvement, as well as the development of adaptation solutions for different areas of Woods Hole. Finally, the current phase 4 of RWH focuses on demonstration projects of climate resilience action at each institution, feasibility study at MBL’s Stoney Beach, and other outreach and engagement initiatives. Learn more about ResilientWoodsHole here.


Tour Details:

The RWH walking trail will take you around 11 stops in Woods Hole Village that covers five main themes: climate resilience initiatives around the village, Woods Hole Village vulnerabilities, institutional planning, natural resources, and coastal processes. This tour will take about an hour to complete. Check out the Info page on how to get in touch with ResilientWoodsHole for any questions or to visit our webpage.

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