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Rising Sea Level Poses Problems for BC High

Will Duggan '16, Contributor

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School is a place that is full of surprises. Each morning students come to BC High with the anxiety of what the school day might throw at them, whether it be a pop quiz in calculus or a fire drill during a free period. It seems as though the only thing that is guaranteed is that each morning BC High will be sitting at its same location on Morrissey Boulevard, ready to welcome you and your anxiety into its doors. But what if I were to tell you that in the next one hundred years this may not be a guarantee?

This past summer I worked on the Begley Scholarship Project, which is an independent study project offered through BC High. I decided to study the issue of sea level rise and how it may effect Columbia Point and BC High specifically in the future.

My findings were shocking.

Today, Boston’s Mean Higher High Water, which means the elevation of Boston’s water level during a higher than usual high tide, is 11.23 feet. That number, which is only consequential when Morrissey Boulevard occasionally floods, is projected to change drastically in the near future. According to Boston Water and Sewer, the medium MHHW for the year 2100 is 15.04 feet, while the precautionary projection is 18.38 feet. These numbers are concerning, but not nearly as scary as storm projections in years to come. In the year 2100, the medium MHHW projection for a 100-year storm, which is a storm that occurs once every 100 years, is 20.16 feet while the precautionary projection for that same scenario is 23.50 feet.

So, what do these numbers mean to us? Well, to put it lightly, BC High could be in trouble. In the next 100 years, Boston Harbor will slowly creep towards BC High’s front doors, until the two finally meet.

In order to visually show how the front side of the school will be effected in the future, I conducted a survey of the McElroy and Loyola Halls, marking different levels that represent the predicted heights of water in different scenarios in 2100. The survey results show the entire front side of the buildings under water in the case of both a 10-year and 100-year storm in 2100.

The good news for us is that we still have time. Even though we will never face the issues of sea-level rise at BC High during our time at the school, what we do today could save the campus for generations of students to come. By accepting the issue that BC High will have to face today, we will be able to buy time and effectively make this campus one that is not only sustainable to sea level rise and ready for the future, but one that is never going away.

 

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Rising Sea Level Poses Problems for BC High