New research indicates that rising sea level from climate change will roughly double the risks of storm-related flooding in coastal communities in Maryland and nationwide.
Scientists with Climate Central, an independent nonprofit journalism and research organization, have produced maps showing how even small increases in sea level rise are likely to push storm surges onto shore. They've also published their findings in peer-reviewed journals.
In Maryland, past and future global warming nearly doubles the estimated odds of “century” or worse floods occurring within the next 18 years, they say — meaning floods so high they would historically be expected just once per century. Elsewhere along the nation's coastline, the risks triple.
Sea level has been increasing about 1.2 inches per decade, based on government data. Climatologists are predicting that sea level boosted by the planet's warming could rise 13 inches by 2050, according to Climate Central. That would nearly double the odds - to more than one in five - of a 100-year or worse flood hitting parts of the state by 2030, they say.
Among the communities most exposed to storm-related flooding are Ocean City and Ocean Pines on the Atlantic coast, Crisfield on the lower Eastern Shore, and Shady Side, Dundalk, Baltimore, Annapolis and other nearby low-lying neighborhoods. They estimate that 53,000 people and 40,000 homes are at risk statewide.