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Seacoast Towns Plan For Sea Level Rise At Climate Summit

Don McCullough

  Sea level rise was the topic of discussion at the Coastal New Hampshire Climate Summit on Thursday.  There, scientists and city planners came together to take small steps toward solving big problems.

Dave Burdick researches Salt Marshes at UNH, where he’s a professor of Marine Wetland Ecology.   He says his recent measurements show the water level of salt marshes in Portsmouth rising at 4.3 millimeters per year – that’s two and a half times as fast as the same salt marshes were rising in 1996.

So, Burdick says, he’s working with city officials like Peter Britz – Portsmouth’s environmental planner. Britz says Portsmouth and Hampton recently got funding to more accurately model how marshlands may migrate inland as sea levels rise.

So we can think about opportunities for allowing that migration to happen. So maybe it’s putting land in conservation or maybe it’s new zoning to put bigger buffers on marsh areas.

Other topics at the Climate Summit included engineering proposals to prevent flooding along the coast in Newcastle, positive impacts of coastal dunes -- both as wildlife habitat, and flood protection for seaside homes. 

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