In the Offing: The Effects of Future Sea Level Rise on Historic New Jersey Lighthouses
sea level rise
Few historic resource types in the United States unilaterally hold as much cultural, historic, aesthetic value as the lighthouse. The use of lighthouses as aids to navigation for mariners contributed immensely to the development of the country’s economy and foreign reach, and they became symbols and sources of pride for the communities in which they were built. Today, New Jersey has a significant and diverse collection of eighteen historic lighthouses. Facing obsolescence, automation, and high maintenance costs, many New Jersey lighthouses became unused or fell into disrepair over the twentieth century, leading to a generally successful effort to preserve them. However, lighthouses are expected to face a new, greater threat: sea level rise caused by global warming. New Jersey, along with the rest of the mid-Atlantic region of the United States, is projected to experience one of the highest levels of sea rise on the planet. Using projected sea level rise data and GIS mapping tool, this thesis assessed which New Jersey lighthouses were most at risk. This study can be used as a preservation planning framework to realize and confront the effects of climate change on historic resources.