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In Fort Point, public art helps visualize rising sea levels

Carolina Aragón's "FutureSHORELINE" represents climate threats as well as solutions proposed by scientists.
Carolina Aragón's "FutureSHORELINE" represents climate threats as well as solutions proposed by scientists.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

To walk along Fort Point Channel this summer is to glimpse Boston’s future.

A temporary 10-foot art installation, made from stacked blue lobster cages, has been set afloat on the channel, its silver and blue fins reflecting in the sun. With three tiers, the work tracks water levels projected by scientists for the years 2030, 2050, and 2070.

On the land nearby are four corresponding sculptures made from yellow lobster cages. They stand at 2.7, 4.4, and 6 feet above land, representing varying berm heights proposed by experts.

The installation, called “FutureSHORELINE,” was designed by artist, landscape architect, and University of Massachusetts Amherst assistant professor Carolina Aragón. “I want the public to be aware that there will be flooding but also to know that there’s something being done about it,” Aragón said in an interview this week.

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"FutureSHORELINE" also represents varying berm heights proposed by experts.
"FutureSHORELINE" also represents varying berm heights proposed by experts.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff

Aragón collaborated with researchers from UMass Amherst and UMass Boston on the installation, with funding from the Fort Point Arts Community and grants from UMass Amherst. The researchers provided Aragón with projections based on the likelihood of extreme weather events and rising sea levels that would set off higher tides. The mesh lobster traps, from Northbridge-based Riverdale Mills, were chosen to highlight the threat to local marine industries and environments.

As a coastal city, much of Boston is vulnerable to sea level rise. Climate Ready Boston, an initiative launched by the city in 2016, proposes solutions to prepare for the impacts of climate change. To address rising water levels at Fort Point specifically, the city has plans for berms and climate-resilient park space, expected to protect surrounding properties from sea level rise for decades to come. In partnership with the Boston Planning and Development Agency, the city has also submitted a $10 million FEMA grant for work along the channel.

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“Most of us are completely clueless about sea level rise,” Aragón said. “And we shouldn’t be, because decisions are being made right now about how to spend our taxpayer dollars and resources to protect and improve shorelines.”


Kyung Mi Lee can be reached at kyungmi.lee@globe.com.