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Cape Cod’s first climate change tour opens in Woods Hole

All around Woods Hole village, there are 12 wooden posts with QR codes that encourage visitors to join the walking tour.
Eve Zuckoff
All around Woods Hole village, there are 12 wooden posts with QR codes that encourage visitors to join the walking tour.

Woods Hole’s newest attraction aims to teach visitors about the impacts of sea level rise, erosion, and more intense and frequent storms.

ResilientWoodsHole, a collaboration among the village’s science institutions, created a self-guided, 12-stop tour highlighting the most climate-vulnerable spots in the area.

The ResilientWoodsHole Climate Walking Trail opened to the public with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Woods Hole Waterfront Park on Tuesday.

“As many of you know, Woods Hole has a history of being the first in many things,” said Leslie-Ann McGee, director of special projects at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI). She addressed a group full of community members, local businesses, and government officials.

“First to explore parts of the oceans, first to research fisheries in the U.S., first to make discoveries on our natural environment, and now the first to identify, analyze, map and create a public trail to explore our climate resiliency, challenges, opportunities and collaborations.”

People can join the tour by scanning QR codes atop small posts along the 2.2 mile loop — or take the tour virtually. The tour includes stops at Stoney Beach, Landfall Restaurant, and the Steamship Authority.

“You might be able to learn a thing or two while you’re waiting for your boat,” said Joe Famely, a consultant from the Woods Hole Group, who helped develop the project.

At each site, visitors can learn about resilience projects underway, see historical storm photos, or hear locals talk about their experience with climate change.

“There's a nice interview with the Landfall’s owner about what they've done with their restaurant over time and some of the impacts from storms they've had,” Famely said.

Woods Hole has experienced sea level rise of about 10 inches since 1932 and this trend is predicted to accelerate.

According to a study by the Woods Hole Group, one-third of the roads in Woods Hole could be underwater during storms as soon as 2070, putting $284 million in property at risk.

The ResilientWoodsHole Climate Walking Trail can be experienced in its entirety in about one hour, but walkers may start or leave the trail at any point and complete all or part of it.

“This is really just a great and interactive way for people to understand what it's really going to be like in the future and to kind of get their heads around it,” said Peter de Menocal, WHOI president. “As much as we like to think scientists are being listened to, it’s another thing to see it up front.”

The ResilientWoodsHole Climate Walking Trail app can be downloaded on the Apple Store or Google Play.

Eve Zuckoff covers the environment and human impacts of climate change for CAI.