In 2023, Portsmouth, New Hampshire celebrates the 400th anniversary of settlement; yet those who “came to fish” started arriving at the offshore Isles of Shoals long before Captain John Smith in 1614. Today the city maintains New Hampshire’s only shipping port on the Atlantic, a working commercial fishing fleet, America’s first and oldest continuously operating Navy yard (founded in 1800) – and some of the oldest historic houses in the country, including many at the 10-acre Strawbery Banke Museum. All of these business and residential components are threatened by sea-level rise. The City’s 2013 Vulnerability Assessment detailed the threat to these resources by 2050. The “worst case scenario” for 2100 with a 100-year storm surge at high tide forecasts 18 feet of flooding. The impact of combined King Tides and storm surges, plus groundwater infiltration, are being felt now.
Keeping History Above Water®: Portsmouth will expand on steps the City, Strawbery Banke and other coastal advocates are taking to address the challenges depicted in previous KHAW sessions, the data collection and remediation efforts, and the public outreach initiatives focused on adaptation, resilience, and solutions to the impacts of sea-level-rise, recurrent flooding, and climate change on historic resources. Sessions will explore the theme “Water Has a Memory: Protecting Historic Port Cities from Sea Level Rise” and foster a collaborative and interdisciplinary discussion focused on implementing practical solutions, overcoming hurdles, and preserving the irreplaceable treasures historic communities must safeguard.
This will be the tenth iteration of Keeping History Above Water, and is being hosted by Strawbery Banke Museum, the City of Portsmouth, University of NH Earth Sciences Center and Portsmouth NH 400th Inc. The conference takes place May 7-9, 2023 at the AC Hotel in downtown Portsmouth and will include an opening plenary, two days of morning conference sessions, and optional afternoon tours (waterfront and on-the-water), site visits and networking opportunities.