Friday, July 5, 2013

One Maryland county prepares for 2-foot sea level rise by 2050

Amanda Scott in Southern Maryland Newspapers Online: A new report on sea level rise indicates Maryland should be planning for a rise of as much as 2 feet by 2050. The independent report, led by the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and prepared by a panel of scientific experts, estimates the sea level could be 2.1 feet higher in 2050 along Maryland’s shorelines than it was in 2000 based on an assessment of the latest climate change science and federal guidelines. The panel was comprised of 21 sea level rise experts from Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, according to a UMCES press release.

“This reassessment narrows the probable range of sea level rise based on the latest science,” Donald Boesch, president of UMCES and chairman of the group of experts who assembled the report, said in the release. “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.”

Dave Brownlee, Calvert County’s principal environmental planner, said Wednesday the county has been preparing for sea level rise for quite some time and will continue to plan well into the future. Last December, he said, the county adopted new flood plain maps with a 2-foot base flood elevation, meaning the lowest level of a unit has to be 2 feet above the elevation of the 100-year flood elevation, which varies depending on where the unit is located in the county and how close the unit is to the coast.

The standard mitigation for sea level rise is elevation, though certainly someone could decide to demolish the unit if he or she doesn’t want to deal with the issue, Brownlee said. If projections are on track, he explained, the county will have to amend the 2-foot base flood elevation by 2050; otherwise, the 2-foot base flood elevation will be under water....

The Cove Point Light in Calvert County, Maryland, in 1961

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