Sea-level Rise: Projections for Maryland 2018

Maryland’s shoreline and coastal bays are highly vulnerable to sea-level rise (SLR), causing shoreline erosion, deterioration of tidal wetlands, saline contamination of low-lying farm fields, "nuisance” tidal flooding, and more. Fulfilling requirements of Maryland’s Commission on Climate Change Act of 2015, this report provides updated projections of sea-level rise expected into the next century along Maryland’s coast. The probabilistic SLR projections presented in the report offer a scientifically sound and readily applicable basis for planning and regulation, assessments of changes in tidal range and storm surge, development of inundation mapping tools, infrastructure siting and design, and identification of adaptation strategies for high-tide flooding and saltwater intrusion. The data is presented in a highly accessible, easy to understand format for adaptation planning. 

These holistic SLR projections take into account local and regional factors, such as land subsidence and distance from melting polar ice sheets, and the growing volume of the ocean globally. The projections in this report are based on analyses of three emissions pathway scenarios. It is stressed that while the emissions pathway has little influence on SLR projections in the short-term, the scenarios vary significantly and have an increasing influence on SLR projections in the long-term beyond 2050. Projections indicate a likely rise of 0.8 to 1.6 feet between 2000 and 2050 for Maryland. After 2050, if emissions continue to grow well into the second half of the 21st century, a rise of 2.0 to 4.2 feet is likely over the course of the century, with a 5% chance of it exceeding 5.2 feet. If, however, emissions are reduced to meet a less-than-2°C target, a rise of 1.2 to 3.0 feet is predicted, with a 5% change of over a 3.7 foot rise.

The report refers users to Maryland’s Climate Change and Coast Smart Construction: Infrastructure Siting and Design Guidelines for guidance in using the SLR projections for planning.

This report represents the most recent update by the 13-member Expert Group to the SLR projections previously derived in Updating Maryland’s Sea-level Rise Projections (2013).


Publication Date: 2018

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  • Climate science

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