Marshfield Coastal Adaptation Annotated Bibliography

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This website is still in active development.

This website is an annotated bibliography for tracking interesting research articles, news coverage, references, and online resources relevant to issues of climate change adaptation in the coastal community of Marshfield, Massahcusettes (USA). Much of it will likely be useful for other communities in a similar situation.

The information here has been gathered and edited by the members of the Town of Marshfield's Coastal Advisory Committee, which reports to the Town's Board of Selectmen. The site is hosted by committee member Dr. Sean P. Robinson, with thanks to the Helena Foundation Junior Physics Laboratory in the Department of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

This bibliography represents a partial response to those line items in the Committee's mission statement which pertain to educating the public on the complicated issues of climate change and adaptation. It also summarizes the Committee members' efforts to advance their own knowledge of adaptation strategies to sea level rise and related climate change phenomena in coastal communities like Marshfield. A larger view of the Commitee's work is summarized in its work plan.

This website will continue to be updated.


Organizational Discussion

Agencies and Organizations
Management of coastal risks involves a complex set of public agencies and private partners. The Agencies and Organizations page is a partial listing of the involved parties with commentary on the roles of each of these bodies and how they relate to each other in regards to managing coastal adaptation. Understanding these relationships is helpful for understanding why certain adaptation strategies are or are not pursued as commonly as others, independant of the technical merits or costs of such measures.
Understanding how to begin thinking about the challenges of coastal adaptation in a coherent and comprehenisve manner is itself a complex problem, but one that must be adressed in order for citizens and municipal leaders to make responsible fact-based decisions. Selected elements of the large literature on this subject are discussed on the Planning page, including the Marshfield Coastal Advisory Committee's own work plan.

Technical Discussion

Adaptation Strategies
Climate Change
One of the principle drivers (but not the only one) of the need for adaptation measures in coastal communities is climate change. Therefore, a solid grasp of the present scientific understanding and explanation of climate change is necessary for making educated judgments about coastal adaptation. The Climate Change science page will attempt to briefly summarize this understanding.
GIS Resources
Geographical Information Systems, or GIS, is a set of technological tools for placing data layers on maps. Basic skills in and access to GIS tools are essential to any research-based approach to coastal adaptation. The GIS Resources page includes a set of links which may help people get started in casual GIS usage. (Professional level applications of GIS often require expertise derived from extensive training and fairly powerful computers running expensive, specialized software.)

Cultural Discussion

Historical Marshfield
Understanding when and why Marshfield's citizens starting building homes in vulnerable coastal areas would help with two areas of relevance to coastal adaptation today:
  1. decipher what the "natural" profile of Marshfield's coastal areas might look like without coastal protection structures and land development, and
  2. bring some perspective in judging which adaptation strategies are "reasonable" in the big picture that extends beyond the limited (historically) scope of experience of today's residents.
Marshfield Coastal Culture
Understanding the relationship between the people of Marshfield and its coastal environment --- including the commercial fishing fleet, the recreational and tourism uses of the coast and waterways, and the unquantifiable value of personal and neighborhood identities --- is essential in setting priorities for coastal adaptation strategies.

NFIP, FIRMs, FEMA, and all that

Even though coastal adaptation planning focuses primarily on issues several years or decades into the community's future, vulnerable coastal communities are already threatened today in a variety of ways, including the high cost of mandatory flood insurance. Although the interplay of the National Flood Insurance Program with the local community is not strictly a coastal adaptation issue, we understand that some people may find themselves on this page when searching for such information. For that reason, a breif set of resources have been collected on the Flood Insurance page.