Ready for Tomorrow: The City Of Salem, Massachusetts Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan

The City of Salem, Massachusetts Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment and Adaptation Plan focuses on steps the city can take to remain a livable city with a strong economy and tourism sector in the face of climate change impacts. Key expected climate change impacts for Salem include extreme heat events, extreme precipitation events, sea level rise, and storm surge. The report addresses these impacts across the priority sectors of critical building infrastructure, water, energy, stormwater, transportation, and vulnerable populations. The plan outlines numerous adaptation strategies to address each of these vulnerabilities.

According to climate projections, the City of Salem will experience more days with temperatures equal to or above 90°F and more frequent 100-year storms. The closest tidal datum to the city shows that sea level is expected to rise about 4 feet by 2100 compared to 1998. As a result, storm surge is predicted to be over 13 feet by 2100.  

Salem’s vulnerability assessment identified 104 issues that may arise from climate change. 17 vulnerabilities are prioritized based on factors such as impacts on the economy, health and safety, and cultural and historical assets. The city also considers the likelihood an impact will occur, opportunities to align strategies with existing plans and programs, funding availability, and city jurisdiction.

For each prioritized vulnerability, the plan outlines climate change impacts and applicable adaptation strategies. For example, for the priority vulnerability “ineffective seawalls,” the plan explains that seawalls are already facing significant damage and overtopping is a risk in some locations. Climate change is expected to exacerbate these issues. The plan recommends strategies such as installing drainage features, increasing the top of the structure height, and using bulkhead materials to repair seawalls.

Another priority vulnerability is property damage or loss of historic properties. Flooding is currently a threat to assets of economic and historic significance in some areas. Increasing storm surge is expected to worsen this situation and lead to additional damage. The plan provides strategies to mitigate these issues, including evaluating the building for flood proofing opportunities, relocating existing facilities outside flooding levels, and elevating a building’s critical uses.


Publication Date: December 2014

Related Organizations:

  • City of Salem, Massachusetts


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Adaptation plan

States Affected:


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