Marshfield, Massachusetts 2013 Master Plan: Climate Change Adaptation Chapter

The Climate Change Adaptation Planning chapter of the Marshfield 2013 Master Plan is a case study and adaptation plan for Marshfield, Massachusetts. This report was prepared by students from the University of Massachusetts, Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning.

The climate change impacts for Marshfield that are addressed in the report are based on review of existing climate projections for the region. The UMass team found that by the year 2100, Marshfield can expect sea level rise of approximately two feet, 16-30 more days with heat over 90 degrees in summers, increased precipitation in the winters, as well as more severe and frequent flood events.

A variety of sectors were analyzed for vulnerabilities and impacts from climate stressors including: natural resources, coastal infrastructure, stormwater, water supply, wastewater, soft municipal infrastructure, transportation, and private property. Social vulnerability was also a focus of this assessment.

To assess the social vulnerability of the town of Marshfield, census data for commonly used indicators of vulnerability were compiled - including age, sex, economic status, and educational attainment. Since vulnerability is a relative measure, data for the town of Marshfield were compared to regional, state, and national data.

To assess the biophysical vulnerability of the town of Marshfield, an inventory of existing geographic conditions was conducted. This inventory included analysis of population density, development patterns, critical infrastructure sites, flood zones, and soil storage capacity. Applying climate change projections to the town of Marshfield, maps showing the impact of current and future sea level rise, storm surge, and precipitation were developed.

From these assessments, three key strategies were identified as top priority changes that Marshfield can enact when considering adaptation planning methods.

These recommendations include: 

  •  Living shorelines treatment

Living shoreline treatments utilize the natural growth patterns of vegetation, rocky outcroppings, and dunes that were once present in coastal settings. Segments of Marshfield's coast without seawall protection are primary candidates for this program.

  • Pervious pavement installation

By replacing impervious pavements with pervious options such as permeable pavers, stormwater and flood water will be absorbed into the ground quicker and more directly. This treatment will ease excess flooding and erosion.

  • Building elevation grant program

This is a program in which homeowners or business owners elevate their structures to the heights recommended for Marshfield, then are reimbursed for the cost, or at least a substantial portion of the cost. This would reduce or eliminate the town’s dependency on the deteriorating seawall.

It is also recommended for Marshfield to form an Adaptation Committee to support the “implementation of strategies and provide continued oversight of the planning process. The composition of the committee should represent the diversity of stakeholders present in the town, including residents from different villages and town employees from different departments. The committee should seek to increase stakeholder involvement by providing the public with information on their mission, as well as ongoing updates on the actions being taken towards reducing the impacts of climate change.”

Additional strategies were generated across many sectors that are presented in a matrix format in the report. The “Marshfield Adaptation Strategies Matrix” indicates the climate stressors addressed by each strategy, as well as the co-benefits of and the pathways to implementation.

Some of the adaptation strategies discussed include:

  • Land acquisition and transfer of development rights
  • Coastal setbacks and rolling easements
  • Road elevations and alternative transportation options
  • Stormwater strategies including impervious surface replacement


Publication Date: December 2012

Related Organizations:

  • University of Massachusetts
  • City of Marshfield, Massachusetts


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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