NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Local News

June 17, 2014

Coastal geologist speaks on shoreline changes

“The Pros and Cons of Coastal Erosion Control: Is Anything Really Successful?” will be the title of a Storm Surge presentation at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Newbury Elementary (Round) School with a presentation by Jim O’Connell, a coastal geologist and land-use specialist for close to 30 years.

The doors open at 6:30 p.m., with the program starting at 7 in the school at 63 Hanover St. Parking is at the back of the school. Enter through door 4 or 7.

Storm Surge: The Merrimack Valley Coastal Adaptation Workgroup is concerned especially with the expected effects of sea level rise.

O’Connell’s presentation will begin with a description of the beneficial functions of coastal landforms and the processes that drive shoreline and coastal landform changes.

He will document shoreline change rates over the past 100 years along the Massachusetts shore.

His presentation will include state regulatory constraints for altering coastal landforms and interfering with coastal processes, and examples of structural and non-structural coastal erosion control alternatives in various coastal environments in Massachusetts.

O’Connell has been appointed to the new state Land Subject to Coastal Storm Flowage Task Force. For the past 15 years, he has been on the board of directors of Duxbury Beach Reservation Inc., nonprofit owner in-trust of a 4.5-mile-long barrier beach.

He is a coastal geologist/coastal land-use specialist and principal with Coastal Advisory Services, a South Shore consulting firm.

O’Connell has worked as a coastal geologist and coastal processes specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Sea Grant Program, Cape Cod Cooperative Extension, Cape Cod Commission, Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management and the Town of Scituate as its conservation agent.

Storm Surge exists to educate the public, businesses and governments about climate change and to encourage the region’s eight towns and cities to prepare long-term plans for the mitigation of sea level rise, by working with nature.

Area coastal and tidal communities of the Merrimack River system that stand to be affected by higher surges from increasingly intense storms are Amesbury, Newburyport, Ipswich, Rowley, Merrimac, Salisbury, Newbury and West Newbury.

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