Sunday, December 17, 2006

Sea Level Rise Along Maryland Coast Faster Than Global Average

According to a sea level rise model just released by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the US Geological Survey, sea level in the mid-Atlantic region could rise 2-3 feet by 2100 as a result of global warming and land subsidence. The Worcester County Sea Level Rise Inundation Model, which is part of a larger study of sea level rise in the mid-Atlantic area, predicts that the rate of sea level rise in the region will double or triple over the course of the next century, and that vast acreage of wetlands, as well as billions of dollars in waterfront real estate will be threatened as a result.

Worcester County officials carefully considered the impacts of sea level rise and flooding in the process of drafting of the County's comprehensive plan this year, and even have in place a zoning overlay prohibiting development in the County's most flood-prone areas.

As Executive Leopold and Anne Arundel County move into the re-consideration of the County's General Development Plan, sea level rise, the loss of wetlands, and the sensitive nature of our coastal boundary need to be given significant attention. Worcester County appears to be a model that we could learn from.

As the Executive Director of the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, Dave Blazer, said, "It re-emphasizes the need to be careful what we do on the land in terms of development. If sea level rise is chipping away at the wetlands and marsh areas from the front side, we have to take extra care to make sure we aren’t chipping away at them from the back side.”

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