Sea-level rise is driving more frequent and widespread coastal flooding along Maine’s ~5,400 miles of tidally-influenced coastline, and communities face an urgent need to adapt. Near and long-term flood projections that combine local observations of water levels and flood impacts are foundational to adaptation.
Maine faces significant barriers to building coastal flood resilience due to (1) sparse tide gauge coverage and observation-based flood thresholds; and (2) the lack of a network of researchers, civic leaders, engaged community members (particularly youth), and resilience practitioners ready to leverage data to support coastal planning and resilience.
In this Stage 2 Project, funded by the National Science Foundation Civic Innovation Challenge, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute will lead a team of civic, community, education, and industry partners in building social and technological infrastructure to expand the collection of local data and leverage it for building coastal resilience.
This project will feature four coastal Maine communities that already experience regular flooding and have a range of demographics and municipal capacities: Portland, Boothbay Harbor, St. George, and Machias. We are installing Hohonu tide gauges in the four communities and partnering with in-community organizations to develop local capacity for running and sustaining coastal flooding community science programs that collect geo- and time-referenced flood impact data.
We will support the translation of data to decision-making by (1) providing customized data products and non-competitive mini-grants that support ongoing resilience projects in each community; and (2) developing interactive data platforms that provide intuitive displays of water level and flood impact data.
We are engaging youth by piloting a three-part curriculum with a cohort of middle and high school teachers that (1) develops a conceptual understanding of the physical drivers of coastal flooding, (2) prepares students for contributing data to the coastal flooding community science program, and (3) supports participation in a facilitated coastal resilience learning exercise alongside adult community members.
Access real-time tide gauge data for:
Machias: We installed two Hohonu tide gauges on a piling at the boat ramp next to Helen's, with the help of James Jutras of Sunrise County Economic Council. We are testing two technologies — one that measures water level with radar, and one that measures with ultrasound.
Saint George: We installed this gauge at the Port Clyde Fishermans Co-op on 11/8/2023. Thanks to Gerry Cushman for the support. Note that there is another gauge installed at Southern Island, and it will go offline in March 2024.
Boothbay Harbor: We installed this gauge on the Department of Marine Resources Pier on 6/2/2023.
Portland: We installed this gauge in the Fore River Sanctuary on 10/13/2023, with the help of Kevin Deneault, City of Portland GIS Mapping Specialist.
Coastal Flooding and Sea Level Rise Curriculum for Teachers:
- View and download the 5–8 grade curriculum being piloted in partnership with teachers in Machias, Boothbay Harbor, St. George, and Portland this school year: "Coastal Flooding and Sea Level Rise: Understanding, Monitoring, and Action."
NSF Civic Innovation Challenge Stage 1 Recap
This project builds on a 6-month "Stage 1" pilot, where we began working with communities to assess local flood risk. Watch the video below to learn more.
Coastal Flooding Community Science: December 23, 2022
This is a storymap summarizing key data and observations collected during a storm on December 23, 2021.
This project is generously supported by the National Science Foundation, including the Directorate of Geosciences and the EPSCoR program.
Town of Machias:
- Sunrise County Economic Council
- The University of Maine at Machias
- Machias Downtown Resilience Committee
- Downeast Coastal Conservancy
- Maine Coast Heritage Trust
Town of St. George:
- Knox County Emergency Management Agency
- St. George Resiliency Committee
- Herring Gut Coastal Science Center
Town of Boothbay Harbor:
City of Portland:
Data Access and Technology Partners:
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