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CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT

On these unseasonably warm January days, small talk about the weather quickly shifts to big talk about climate change. It’s certainly on my mind as of late. In early December, I attended a conference in Poughkeepsie about the impacts of climate change on the Hudson Valley. Some of the information presented at the conference is pertinent to the future of the lighthouse in the 21st-century. Climate change certainly presents a whole new set of issues for historic preservation.
SUMMARY OF CLIMATE CHANGE IN HRV
1. Sea Level Rise 2-3’ by 2100 (low-end estimate, does not include changes to Greenland ice-sheet)
2. Increased frequency of extreme rainfall events
3. Reduced return period for 100-flood events
4. Milder winters and reduced river ice duration
5. More frequent short-term (1-3 months) summertime droughts
6. Change in wetland ecosystem community composition
7. Storm surges: “More frequent extreme storms, often associated with coastal and estuarine storm surges, especially when coinciding with high tide, can lead to interruption of operations, damage, and—in extreme cases—complete loss of facilities at vulnerable sites. Sea level rise in the Hudson River estuary of at least 2 to 3 feet during the 21st century will increase the frequency of such disruptive flooding events by factors of 3 to 10 in areas with tidal coast- or river-shorelines.” Quote from Klaus Jacob, Senior Research Scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University
LIKELY IMPACTS AT THE LIGHTHOUSE
1. Increased likelihood of damage to trail structures from storm surge and flooding
2. Impeded public access on lighthouse trail due to sea level rise and storm surges
3. Permanent inundation of wetlands from sea level rise
4. Floating dock will reach its maximum height more often with potential damage to dock structure
5. Fixed dock stability undermined by repeated flood/storm surge events
6. Deck area inundated more frequently, undermining bluestone patio
7. Eventual threats to boat shed by flooding/storm surge events
8. Increase in frequency and intensity of basement flooding with potential damage to lighthouse structure
9. Damage to breaker box in basement
10. Damage to junction box at bulkhead
11. Eventual threats to parking lot and shed by flood/storm surge events
12. Pollution of cistern water in extreme flood event
13. Inundation of composter in basement
14. Decreased likelihood of ice damage in winter due to milder winters

SOURCES OF INFORMATION FOR CLIMATE CHANGE IN HUDSON RIVER VALLEY
1. Hudson Valley Climate Change Conference Proceedings, Dec 4, 2006: http://www.dec.state.ny.us/website/hudson/hvcc.html
2. Climate Changes for the NE: http://www.climatechoices.org/ne/index.html
3. Northeast Climate Impacts Assessment: http://www.northeastclimateimpacts.org/

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Saugerties Lighthouse Conservancy
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