Can city protect East Boston from devastating floods?

Plain lands on flooded runway at Logan Airport

Water landing at Logan after yesterday's flash floods. Photo by DS.

WBUR looks at city efforts to begin to protect East Boston - basically several low-lying islands stitched together with landfill - from rising sea levels and the potential for Katrina-like flooding.



    Free tagging: 


    Quick question

    By on

    TO DATE what is Boston's change in sea level? Or is this future speculation. Also, seeing this is landfill/back-fill, can some of this flooding be attributed to settling.

    Well grounded future projection

    Sea level rise is not only around a foot in the last century, the rate of rise has increased in recent years. The amount of sinking has been steady for years and it is not enough to account for the amount of rise.

    The real trick is that it won't be a linear process of rise. We now know about the non-linear effects of the breaking off of large chunks of antarctic ice (collapse of large ice sheets), and there are also potential effects of cold water in the arctic affecting currents and potentially backing up more water into our region.

    We do know that it is getting warmer, we know that seas are rising in our area, and sea level rise WILL be a consequence of it getting warmer. How bad will it get how fast? That we can't quite predict ... other than it will be bad, and there are things we can do to ward off the effects.

    More on evidence of sea level rise:

    The Surge!

    By on

    It's also not just a matter of the sea level, it's how a slight change in sea level at a particular location can result in much more severe high tides or storm surges at that particular location.

    High tide during a windy storm can be dramatically worse with just slightly higher sea levels under specific local conditions.


    Tiresome nonsense in yet another knee jerk reply. You aren't even close to clever.

    Meanwhile, talk to our GOP governor and his appointees. They know climate change is real and they are actually doing something about it. They don't confuse glib "non jokes" with clear and present reality.

    What science in the article

    By on

    What science in the article at the top or the article in your link do you disagree with? Why do conservatives talk about "personal responsibility" but then they pollute all they want and leave it for others to clean up?

    You mean...

    By on

    Like Al Gore, John Kerry plus most of Hollywood and their private jets?


    By on

    And not complimenting deniers either.

    Just saying there are ample servings of hypocrisy to go around on both sides of the aisle.

    Three different heads to the "Hydro"

    1. what we see in the picture is neither sea level rise, nor sinking land, nor storm surge. What we see here is a drainage issue. Drainage issues have been getting worse for years now and we need to plan for solving them before too much more change makes this summer look dry. Massachusetts is predicted to get increased rainfall on average, but with much more variance (hence the increasing droughts, too), The pattern of increase in the last several years is for more intense rainfall events, rather than more frequent rainfall events (same number of rainstorms, more rainfall per rainstorm). Cambridge's climate change report has a very nice graphics showing what this means.

    2. Sea level rise is a second head of this monster. It won't be solved by improved drainage, and may not be amenable to dyking/levees in an airport environment. What may have to happen is raising the entire airport.

    3. Storm surges are a third and entirely different monster head, although they might be held back by a deployable barrier or raising the land. Another response is to design the whole mess for flooding - look how quickly the airport that was hit by the 2011 tsunami in Japan was operational? That wasn't luck - it was designed for tsunami resilience (which is much like surge resilience). Hosed off, hosed out, back in action.

    Under Executive Order 569, the Commonwealth is combining climate resilience planning with the 5-year FEMA Hazard Planning in order to prepare cities and towns for climate change. The site is very new and fairly boring right now, but you will eventually be able to get a lot of information on climate projections, hazards, and adaptations that are downscaled to the local level from this site:

    Around 20% of MA communities have signed up for grants and training in the first round of funding for communities to do this planning and operationalize their plans, too.

    Yes, that photo is not proof of the crisis to come

    By on

    It just struck me, because I saw it literally right after I posted the link to the WBUR story, but it illustrates very nicely just how vulnerable East Boston is to sea-water rise - look what's right behind the plane.

    These things aren't unrelated

    It is evidence of the building crisis that has already begun. Climate change is boosting the output of storms, and this problem will just get worse if it isn't seen to. Rising sea level makes drainage more problematic - as does putting up sea walls and levees and the like - because rainwater coming down has nowhere to run off to. At some point, it might make the most sense to just move the whole airport inland (managed retreat writ large) because planes don't vault walls very well and putting huge water storage and pumping tanks underneath would be a massive endeavor.

    Visual perspective + Context

    By on

    DS's photos imply they work for JetBlue, which makes me think that they're in close to the terminal. Also, this shot is low, as if a person standing or on a vehicle took it. Thus the caption indicating it was in the taxiway tells me the plane was close to the terminal.

    JetBlue has nearly all, if not all, of the gates at Terminal C. Taking this into consideration plus knowing the sheer acreage of Logan, looking behind that plane in that photo tells me we see airfield (green grass) and a runway beyond (the grey-blue).

    So in this instance, I don't think we're seeing the high tide behind the plane.

    The logical path is a whole

    By on

    The logical path is a whole harbor protection plan where a series of gates can go up. East Boston, Winthrop, Chelsea, Revere ish, Charlestown and even upstream to Somerville and Everett are all in the danger zone of a serious surge. Sure the wall system would be pricey but think of the cost of shoring up all that coast line?

    Not Logical

    By on

    It won't work. Look at a topo map

    Great to see NASA admitting sea levels are falling

    By on

    It was nice last week to see NASA admit that sea levels are falling. The Global Warming rebranded as "Climate Change" crowd is apoplectic. Not to mention Al Gore, the man who "took the initiative to create the internet" and the Godfather of Global Warming "Climate Change" reportedly spends 21 times the average American homeowner on energy at his mansion.

    Great to see NASA back on track after President Obama told them that NASA's top priority should be outreach to Muslims. Back to basics.

    As for Logan, Swirly is correct, this is a drainage (Massport) issue. Heavy rain has happened for years (see Noah's Ark) but it's a Massport problem, easily resolved.

    put the mouse down grandpa

    By on

    So the article you linked to ("author" Tyler Durden...chuckle) actually links to another conspiracy page that wants to sell me erectile dysfunction medicine, which actually references a NASA website that doesn't say what they're claiming at all.

    I wish you would apply the same standards to your personal safety that you do to understanding how the world works.

    Great to see Fish is still as plumb-dumb and gullible

    as ever.

    His assertion about NASA and falling sea levels is moronic, as ten seconds on the Google reveals.

    His assertion about Al Gore is not only equally brain-dead, but the tiredest idiot-right-winger trope on the Internet.

    He can't even troll as well as a six-year-old that has been repeatedly dropped on its head. Somebody help Gramps smash his dial-up modem now, before he starts ranting about chemtrails and the flat earth out where the world can hear him.

    aw jeez...

    By on

    "Grandpa" Gramps"....we're being horribly ageist. Maybe we should just rag on him for pig ignorance. (aw jeez...anti-porcine attitude....sigh.)

    Maybe it's ageist, or maybe it's a high-odds bet that

    when you hear this kind of wingnut drivel, and it includes 20-year-old wingnut-drivel cliches like, "Haw haw, Al Gore and the Internet!", you're in the presence of an old, angry, painfully-dim white guy. You know, Trump's floor: the benighted 30% who will never stop supporting him even as the helicopter whisks him away from the White House post-resignation or post-impeachment.

    It takes a very special kind of old-man stupid to be as hilarious a mouth-breather as Fish.

    (Aside) Re: Great to see Fish is still as plumb-dumb....

    Bwhahahaha! Brilliant mouse-overs on those links! Here they are, in case anyone missed them:

    "Read Snopes more, you cringe-inducing dolt"
    "Delete your AOL account, dumbass"

    Seriously, 'Fish, stick to your day job. :)

    as ever.

    His assertion about NASA and falling sea levels is moronic, as ten seconds on the Google reveals.

    His assertion about Al Gore is not only equally brain-dead, but the tiredest idiot-right-winger trope on the Internet.

    He can't even troll as well as a six-year-old that has been repeatedly dropped on its head. Somebody help Gramps smash his dial-up modem now, before he starts ranting about chemtrails and the flat earth out where the world can hear him.

    A bigger question

    By on

    is SHOULD we be protecting these neighborhoods from flooding?

    Not East Boston in particular-I have no strong feelings for or against it specifically-, but all cities/towns/neighborhoods built roughly at sea level, especially those built on landfill that would not exist naturally.

    Obviously, there are some assets that are going to be worth the cost(dense downtown areas, historic districts, transportation tunnels that if flooded would end transit connectivity to elsewhere). But a lot of these landfill areas are a manmade phenomenon, the creation of which would not be allowed according to current environmental standards. Are they worth protecting?

    With a climate dens governor, it's unlikely

    By on

    Sure it CAN, but with a governor who doesn't believe in climate change (he claims he's not a scientist so he couldn't possibly know) its unlikely state properties like the airport will get any assistance to deal with something the leader of the state doesn't believe is happening. With todays announcement that Baker is following Trumps lead on delaying long promised pollution controls for Mass rivers, Baker seems to really have found an comrade on environmental issues.

    Baker isn't a denier

    By on

    You know what else? Coakley would have resisted those new regulations because they cost her rich donors money. She would have found a way to scapegoat somebody, though.

    Baker isn't a climate denier

    By on

    Not anymore.

    Ever wonder why Belmont got a pass to shit all over the Mystic for so long while Chelsea and Everett were under constant scrutiny?

    Coakley. That's why. She would have fought the new regs just the same, if not more or by selectively enforcing them on poorer communities who aren't here special donor friends.

    The woman was her own cesspool of scapegoating.

    Walls and planes

    By on

    They don't mix.

    Although a wall here would be vastly more useful than that see-through, trebuchet resistant Mexico monstrosity built by short-timer prisoners with no job creation.