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Storms, Erosion, Flooding

Severely eroded beachfront house

Seventy-five percent of the population of Massachusetts lives in coastal counties and our coasts provide an even greater number of people a wide range of economic, social, and recreational opportunities. Competing uses of our coastline can result in conflicts between the protection of waterfront upland property and the preservation of the beneficial functions of coastal landforms and resources, conflicts between private ownership of the coast and public access, and recreational demands on the coast through boating, fishing, shellfishing, and the use of beaches for swimming and sunbathing.

Threats to coastal communities include climate change driven sea-level rise, increasingly intense storm systems and their related flooding and shoreline erosion. Woods Hole Sea Grant Program elements include:

  • Characterizing coastal processes
  • Researching coastal hazard mitigation
  • Developing new approaches for managing shorelines and marshes, marine spatial planning and ocean zoning

Featured Topic


Featured Topic

Managed Retreat

Featured Topic

Community Rating System


Among the important research projects recently supported by WHSG are:

» See a full list of funded projects from 2010-present

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Community Engagement

WHSG employs specialists with the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension to create an effective outreach partnership providing reliable technical and science‐based information to distinct groups within our region. Extension and outreach staff share their expertise with communities and individuals, as well as working directly with the management community charged with making regulatory decisions. Engagement efforts include:

  • Assisting coastal resource managers, property owners, and the public in making informed, effective decisions that contribute to maintaining the beneficial functions of coastal landform systems
  • Assisting towns with floodplain management and educating coastal managers and the public about flood risk and safety
  • Coordinating the Community Rating System across Cape Cod
  • The Islands Coastal Conference, which alternates each year between Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket islands. The free conference attracts coastal managers, environmental organizations, town officials and staff, conservation commissions, planning boards, consultants, researchers, experts and partners from across the region to discuss a range of critical issues.
  • Creating and providing for free the Homeowner's Handbook to Prepare for Coastal Hazards
    Manual do Proprietario para Preparo a Riscos Costeiros (Portuguese translation)
  • Conducting teacher workshops on beach and dune dynamics and coastal processes
  • Co-sponsoring workshops and conducting needs assessments on issues relevant to sustainable coastal development