Report: Maryland could get sea level rise of 2 feet by 2050

June 26, 2013 at 2:16 PM
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BALTIMORE, June 26 (UPI) -- Maryland should begin preparing for the possibility of sea levels rising by as much as 2 feet along its shorelines by 2050, a report says.

The projections in the report -- prepared by a panel of experts led by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science -- are based on an assessment of the latest climate change science, the university reported Wednesday.

The report was created in response to Gov. Martin O'Malley's executive order on climate change and "Coast Smart" construction.

The report recommended planning for sea levels to be 2.1 feet higher in 2050 along Maryland's 3,100 miles of tidal shorelines than it was in 2000, to accommodate the high end of the range of the projections.

"This reassessment narrows the probable range of sea level rise based on the latest science," said Maryland researcher Donald Boesch, who led the group of experts preparing the report. "It provides the state with sea level rise projections based on best scientific understanding to ensure that infrastructure is sited and designed in a manner that will avoid or minimize future loss or damage."

The sea level estimates were based on thermal expansion of ocean volume as a result of warming, the melting of glaciers and Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, changing ocean dynamics such as the slowing of the Gulf Stream, and vertical land movement, the researchers said.

"While there is little we can do now to reduce the amount of sea level rise by the middle of the century, steps taken over the next 30 years to control greenhouse gas emissions and stabilize global temperatures will largely determine how great the sea level rise challenge will be for coastal residents at the end of this century and beyond," Boesch said.

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