Maryland & Climate Change

Global Warming & the Free State

Climate change will have a real and long-term impact on the State of Maryland. To help the State prepare for predicted changes, researchers with the University of Maryland Center for Science have helped build the scientific foundation for the Maryland Commission on Climate Change's assessment of these impacts.

In August 2008, the Commission released its Plan of Action that assesses likely climate change impacts in Maryland and presents strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the state’s vulnerability to climate change. Global Warming and the Free State is the comprehensive climate change impact assessment included as Chapter 2 of the Plan of Action. It was prepared by a Scientific and Technical Working Group, consisting of leading Marylanders with expertise in climate and its impacts.

This assessment of impacts is the most thorough of any yet attempted at a state level but its findings are consistent with other international, national and regional assessments. It is based on extensive review of the scientific literature and climate projections through the 21st century using the same models used by the Nobel prize-winning International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). To estimate the degree of climate change impacts that could be avoided, higher (continued growth in emissions) and lower (emissions peaking at mid-century) scenarios were employed.

Among the Assessment’s key findings:

  • Global warming is already here.
  • Maryland’s climate will be much warmer later in the century.
  • Precipitation will very likely increase during the winter and spring but hotter temperatures are likely to create drier conditions during the summer.
  • Sea level is likely to rise at least twice as fast as it did during the 20th century, significantly increasing vulnerability of low lying communities and key infrastructure and threatening tidal wetlands.
  • Chesapeake Bay restoration will be made more challenging by climate change.
  • Substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions is required to avoid the most severe impacts in Maryland.