Long term thinking in practice

Let’s take advantage of Milford’s 375th anniversary and practice thinking long-term.

The coastline here consists largely of marshes and shifting sand. In the long run, Irene and Sandy, far from being anomalies, are simply particularly dramatic examples of Long Island Sound’s perpetual gnawing at the soft tissue of our city.

Since 1979, for instance, the National Flood Insurance Program has been keeping track of what it calls “Severe Repetitive Loss Properties” in the US: properties that have been flooded and rebuilt from two to four times.

Of such properties located in the six New England states, Connecticut has the greatest number — about half — and of such properties located in Connecticut, Milford tops the list.

Perhaps Milfordites have just been stubborn; perhaps they couldn’t afford to fortify their properties as extensively as people in neighboring municipalities; perhaps they, or the builder/developers, didn’t have an environmental crystal ball.

For that last problem, at least, 50 years of environmental research and visualization advances have begun to offer solutions. The following websites, all drawing from a pool of authoritative government databases, show what’s happened to Milford’s shore during the 20th century, and estimates what will happen during the 21st.

In many cases, details down to street level can be explored. These seven sites take you on a time-travel tour of Milford a long way on both sides of the short-term Now.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). (Monitoring stations in Bridgeport, New Haven, New London).

http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/. Semi-interactive. Sea-level and plots of associated data.

http://csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/tools/slrviewer. Interactive. Slider for up to six feet of sea-level rise anywhere along “Digital Coast.”

Climate Central. http://sealevel.climatecentral.org/surgingseas/. Interactive. Slider for sea-level rise up to 10 feet along Connecticut coast by 2100.

Nature Conservancy. coastalresilience.org/tools/apps. Click “Flood & Sea-Level Rise” for CT and NY. Interactive. Select date up to 2080, Low, Medium, High flooding.

Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). Ctecoapp1.uconn.edu/ctcoastalhazards.

Interactive. Select sea-level rise, surge, erosion, demographics.

[UCONN] Center for Land Use Education & Research(CLEAR).

http://clear.uconn.edu. (Click “LIS Watershed’s Changing Landscape”). Tables only. Shows loss or gain of listed land types (e.g. tidal wetlands), by watershed, from 1985-2010.

http://clear2.uconn.edu/coastalchange/. (Click “Time Series Maps”). Interactive. Test site currently under construction by Joel Stocker, UConn, to preview project mapping and analyzing shoreline changes along CT coast 1880s-2006. Unusual for detail on Silver Sands and neighboring areas of Milford.