Sea-Level Rise Projections for Maryland 2023
The latest report finds that sea levels along Maryland’s shorelines are rising, and they are rising faster than in the past. Led by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, the report was prepared by a panel of scientific experts to provide projections of the likelihood of different amounts sea-level rise in Maryland decades into the future.
Sea-Level Rise Projections 2023 found that sea level along Maryland's shores will very likely rise a foot between 2000 and 2050—as much as it did over the whole of the last century—and could rise a foot and a half. The sea-level rise that Maryland will experience during the first half of this century will be greater than that experienced during the whole of the last century. Whether the rise is that much or greater will largely be determined by how much and how soon global society is able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
Beyond 2050, the level of sea-level rise Maryland would experience will depend on the rate of global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions. Earth’s temperature is already on the verge of exceeding the threshold by which scientists say we can curb the impacts of global warming. While sea level is unlikely to rise more than 3 1/2 feet by the end of the century, it is only by achieving net-zero emissions that very rapid loss of ice on Antarctica and Greenland can be held in check.
The degree to which countries around the world are able to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions will be a major factor in determining the sea levels we will confront toward the end of this century and into the future. Society must take a long view to adapt to sea-level rise over many decades while implementing aggressive steps now to limit warming.
With its 3,190 miles of shoreline, Maryland and its residents are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of sea-level rise, including chronic flooding events, storm surge, erosion, loss of forest and wetlands, and drinking water and agricultural land being compromised by salt water.
Updated projections are required at least every five years by the Maryland Commission on Climate Change Act of 2015 and can be used by the State to anticipate and plan for changes in marshes, shorelines, flooding frequencies, and saltwater intrusion. The report can also be used to locate and protect sensitive infrastructure in vulnerable cities such as Baltimore and Annapolis, as well as in smaller communities both bayside and seaside.