Helping Massachusetts communities understand and address coastal challenges and identify economic and environmentally sustainable opportunities
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From the Director
With the summer upon us, many locals and visitors to the Cape will be returning to their favorite beaches to find them quite different than last year. Perhaps there are fewer parking spaces or the beach access has been relocated. The past winter was one of the worst in recent years in terms of storm activity and the associated erosion of our coastline. According to the Orleans natural resources manager, about 60 feet of Nauset Beach was lost in just three days, which was equivalent to five years worth of damage at the average erosion rate. As a result of these accelerating changes, in the coming years we will be increasingly asking ourselves the question: retreat or reinforce? In reality, it likely won’t be an either/or decision, though one thing is certain: our town and regional planning bodies will need unbiased, science-based advice on how to manage the inevitable changes to our shifting shorelines.
    In this edition of our e-newsletter, we highlight two examples of how Woods Hole Sea Grant can play a role. On the research front, WHOI scientist Jeff Donnelly and co-workers have reconstructed past storm activity on Cape Cod from clues stored in the sediments of coastal salt ponds. The idea here is that we can learn from history as a means to prepare for the future. From our staff, Extension Agents Greg Berman and Shannon Jarbeau surveyed post storm damage in cooperation with county and state agencies. They also provide towns with the information they need to evaluate the threat and what they can do to preserve these important coastal resources.
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-- Matt Charette

June 1 marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season. After last year’s extremely active and costly hurricane season, many are asking whether ocean warming, sea-level rise, and climate disruption are signaling a new, more intense hurricane regime. Should we in the Northeast do more to prepare for powerful hurricanes?

To know what to expect, we look to the past. With Woods Hole Sea Grant funding, Dr. Jeff Donnelly, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, extracted six cores from Salt Pond and used them to reconstruct a 2000-year history of past storms, and, significantly, to infer the intensity of those storms.

“Hurricanes of greater intensity than have been experienced in recent history are possible here in southeastern New England,” says Donnelly.

This week the White House and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responded to Gov. Charlie Baker’s request for federal disaster assistance for Massachusetts counties impacted by the severe storm on March 2-3.

The Governor's request relies on data collected by the Rapid Response Coastal Storm Damage Assessment Team -- a team that includes Greg Berman and Shannon Jarbeau, extension agents with Woods Hole Sea Grant and Barnstable County’s Cape Cod Cooperative Extension.

“We’re a different breed,” says Berman, a coastal processes specialist whose expertise is often tapped to inform town management plans and decisions. “We like to be out there. That’s when extreme erosion and flooding are happening.”
A year in D.C. as a Sea Grant Knauss Fellow can be a life-changing experience.

A Woods Hole Sea Grant nominee and graduate of the MIT-WHOI Joint Program, Dr. Ellie Bors was placed as a 2017 Knauss Fellow with the NOAA Office of International Affairs (OIA), a staff office that provides strategic direction, advice, and coordination for NOAA’s international engagement and ensures that engagement is consistent with U.S. foreign policy.

Bors says one of the most memorable professional development activities she undertook in during her fellowship was participation in Bering Sea Days, a week-long event held on St. Paul Island in the Pribilof Islands, 300 miles west of the Alaska mainland.
A group of twenty-nine middle and high school teachers filled the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Ocean Science Discovery Center to capacity on May 4th for a behind-the-scenes look at the science and methods used in studying corals, their symbionts, and climate change.

“Our workshops let teachers learn directly from the scientists who devote their lives to this research,” said Woods Hole Sea Grant Educator Grace Simpkins. “Teachers value this rare opportunity and tell us it re-energizes them and their students in the classroom.”
Woods Hole Sea Grant Recent Events

Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Conference

    WHOI Senior Scientist Jeff Donnelly gave the keynote presentation for the Martha’s Vineyard Coastal Conference on June 6, 2018. The free, daylong event attracted 130 people -- double the number who attended the conference when it was first held in 2013. Alternating between Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket, the event featured more than 20 presenters and attracted coastal managers, environmental organizations, town officials and staff, conservation commissions, planning boards, consultants, researchers, experts and partners from across the region. Topics ranged from such critical issues as sea level rise, ocean acidification, storm flooding and erosion. The conference was co-sponsored by Woods Hole Sea Grant, the Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management and the Town of Oak Bluffs. Presentation slides are available on the Sea Grant site.

News from the conference

» The Coast with the Most
Martha’s Vineyard Times

» Scientists Urge Action Plan on Climate Change
Vineyard Gazette

Marine Shrink Wrap Program

    This spring, Woods Hole Sea Grant conducted a recycling effort to collect the shrink wrap used to protect boats in the winter. The program is offered to help reduce the amount of plastic waste that enters the environment. This year, Woods Hole Sea Grant collected shrink wrap from approximately 90 boats. We hope to offer the program again next year, so if you missed us this year, hang on to that plastic!

Questions? Please contact seagrant@whoi.edu
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