And not in the tacky, touristy way, either.
Slip into your galoshes, Bostonians, because, according to a recently released study published by the US Geological Survey,
Boston is sinking.
Not only is it happening a lot faster than scientists previously expected, but our city is within the “northeast hotspot,” which scientists have determined spans from Cape Hatteras, N.C. to just north of Boston. Cities within the hotspot are sinking at a rate alarmingly higher than other parts of the country. While sea levels around the majority of the county are rising at a much more appealing average of 0.6 – 1.0 millimeter annually, Boston and other hotspot cities are 2 -- 3.7 millimeters closer to drowning every year.
The reason Boston is more highly affected than other cities is due to a combination of “differences in land movements, strength of ocean currents, water temperatures, and salinity.” According to an interview published in The Guardian, scientists at the US Geological Survey at St. Petersburg, Florida, “came up with a very clear correlation between the acceleration of sea level rise and rising temperature in the hotspot area. That suggests that as long as temperature continues to rise the hotspot will continue to grow.”
Temperatures in this part of the Atlantic are rising because of the melting of different types of glaciers, a result of global warming. When saltwater and freshwater from the melting glaciers combine, they alter the sensitive balance of warm, fresh water and cold, salt water that exists naturally in our oceans. In the ideal, pre-global warming scenario, the two types of water combine, and the cold water—being more dense—sinks below the warmer fresh water. This creates a current.
Currents do more than just rip innocent children out to sea, swipe away your favorite sunglasses forever, or float you and your inner tube ever so gently away from your beach towel and all other belongings until you’re lost on the beach. They are actually pretty useful for stuff such as: helping fish and whales know where and when to migrate, supplying oxygen to deep water algae (which produces 70-80 percent of earth’s oxygen supply), regulating oceanic and land temperatures, and oh yeah, keeping the ocean at a relatively even sea level around coastlines.
Currents uphold animal life, oxygen supply, and prevent the world from drowning in ocean. These things are relatively important to the overall existence of our planet. Due to the slowing of these currents, the sea level within the hotspot is rising up to four times faster than it is everywhere else.
Start building everything on stilts, of course!
State officials have recently altered building codes to require buildings to stand at least two feet above the highest possible current water level. Though there has been increased attention to buildings being constructed within flood zones, there are few other solutions being proposed to save our city from becoming the next Atlantis.
To put the importance of this issue into perspective, one scientist from the Potsdam Institute in Germany stated, “one metre of sea level rise could raise the frequency of severe flooding for New York City from once per century to once every three years.” The longer we put off reversing this problem, the more expensive it will be to start dealing with the inevitable ramifications.
If stilts don’t solve our problem, maybe we should take a lesson from Venice (a city famous for its sinking), and get prepared. Venetians have been working against the submergence of their city for decades, constructing a series of dams that help hold back tides and keep water levels slightly lower within the city. According to most recent statistics, Boston is sinking at the same rate as Venice, yet our only projected solution is to suck it up and stand on our tippy toes.
Forget about crafting a drastic plan to reverse global warming and its environmental effects, it’s too late for that (and North Carolina is still grappling over whether or not it’s a real thing, anyways). I say we simply start tossing our trash on top of Back Bay again. We’ve done it before; why not make Beacon Hill a little more bodacious? If that doesn’t work, at least the landlords in Mission Hill will have a whole new reason to hike up their rents again next year. Elevation is a selling point you just can’t fudge. And for now, it looks like moving to higher ground may be the only way to avoid getting a little better acquainted with the local aquatic life.
TO VIEW A TOPOGRAPHICAL MAP OF BEANTOWN, AND FIGURE OUT THE BEST ESCAPE ROUTE OUT OF THE CITY, CLICK HERE