Cambridge, Massachusetts Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment - Part 2

The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts has analyzed the climate risks projected for the area from sea level rise, storm surge, and resulting flooding. A summary report and two technical reports are provided which document the modeling of future climate driven sea level rise impacts, and the results of the vulnerability assessment for key assets and populations. This Part 2 report complements the Cambridge Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Part 1 that was published in 2015, which focuses on risks from increasing temperatures and precipitation. In combination, the two reports provide the technical foundation for the  forthcoming Cambridge Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Plan.

The City used the Boston Harbor Flood Risk Model to determine the sea level rise and storm surge (SLR/SS) impacts to Cambridge by 2070. Climate scenarios are described for the impacts on dams, flooding levels in Cambridge, and sea level rise and storm surge events.

For the vulnerability and risk assessment, the extent of flooding informed by the 2070 SLR/SS scenarios were used in combination with information on the locations of infrastructure, community facilities, and socially vulnerable populations. 

The assessment finds that many infrastructure systems are going to be impacted by SLR/SS:

- Three important critical service facilities in Cambridge are at risk of propagated flooding from SLR/SS including: the Police Department Headquarters, the Professional Ambulance Services and Fire Company. The report states that the City has all police services in the headquarters with no redundancy, so this is an asset at high risk.

- The telecom system is also impacted by SLR/SS including the City Emergency Communication Center housed in the Police Department Headquarters.

- The critical water/stormwater natural and infrastructure systems are highly vulnerable to flooding from SLR/SS.

- In addition, some of the most severely impacted systems include transportation networks such as roadway and transit systems.

The City examined the extent to which community resources are at risk to climate impacts as a proxy for measuring harm to social support and service systems. The project team worked with public health scientists, critical service providers, and social service professionals to develop indicators from the 2010 census data for the City’s vulnerable populations which are likely to be impacted by increased flooding. With transparency on the ability to measure social vulnerability, the report states that “(t)hese complex, often invisible, social networks are harder to assess than the built environment and are not completely captured by the geographic or quantitative demographic data used in this study.”

A full description of the vulnerability assessment methods, including how vulnerability and risk were measured, was included in the CCVA Report Part 1. The same methodology was used for assessing vulnerability and risk to flooding resulting from SLR/SS.


Publication Date: February 2017

Related Organizations:

  • City of Cambridge, Massachusetts

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Resource Types:

  • Assessment

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