Climate Change Spells End For Climate-Monitoring Weather Station on Cape Cod

Andy Nash, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service in Boston, walks around the soon-to-be demolished weather station at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge on Morris Island. Photo by Eve Zuckoff for CAI.

On a sunny day at the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge on Cape Cod, meteorologist Andy Nash marvels — and worries — about what he sees.

“There’s a really nice view of the ocean right now. It’s pretty. You can see sandbars off in the distance,” said Nash, who’s in charge of the National Weather Service office in Boston. “Six [or] eight months ago, you couldn’t see that water because there was another 50 to 80 feet of bluff and trees. That’s all gone now. And hence the need for us to be gone, too.”

On-site biologists, meteorologists, and nature-loving daytrippers can see that all that erosion has jeopardized a squat, grey-shingled outpost the National Weather Service has used for the last 50 years to take atmospheric readings twice a day.

This month, Nash and others have watched as workers began dismantling the building. Before it was decommissioned this spring, it was one of just 92 sites across the country where government meteorologists routinely launched weather balloons to collect climate data.

But since November, the bluff on which the weather station sits has eroded at a rate of 1.78 feet each week, on average. Now, all that stands between the building and the sea is 30 feet of sand. It’s a cruel irony: in this place where scientists study Mother Nature, she’s telling them to leave.

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