A rocky bluff over­looking Mass­a­chu­setts Bay has had many lives: a US senator’s estate, a World War II bunker, a Cold War mis­sile base. Now, North­eastern Uni­ver­sity is gam­bling that it can turn the loca­tion into a research magnet for tens of mil­lions in fed­eral dol­lars to study cli­mate change.

Studying the impact of global warming on — in Wash­ington par­lance — “urban coastal sus­tain­ability” has become one of the hottest sources of fed­eral dol­lars, and North­eastern offi­cials believe its modest marine sci­ence center in Nahant can win up to $25 mil­lion a year in US research grants and boost the university’s pro­file in the process.

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