Sea Level Rise Summary

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					                          Sea Level Rise Summary

Academic/Scientific Research

University of Maryland, Center for Environmental Science, Horn Point Laboratory
Court Stevenson, Professor. Court Stevenson researches coastal zone resources and water
quality management issues, ecology of marsh and sea grass systems, effects of sea-level rise on
wetlands and coastal shorelines and the environmental history of the Chesapeake Bay and its

State Government: Agencies, Programs, Committees

Maryland Geological Survey (MGS)
The Coastal and Estuarine Geology program at the MGS is currently mapping shoreline changes
along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic coast. Using digital 1988-1989 orthophotoquads
as base maps, historical and recent shoreline changes spanning 150 years will be calculated
within these areas (time periods mapped will include 1847, 1937, 1942 and the present shoreline
configuration). Currently, all shorelines bordering Chesapeake Bay have been completed and the
coastal bays will be completed by the end of the year. The Bay maps are available from MGS
upon request.
A pilot program is scheduled to begin in the Fall (2000) to acquire high-resolution elevation data
for 2 quadrangles in MD. This information will be used to calculate land area losses due to sea
level rise and may be used to predict future losses.

Department of Natural Resources, Coastal Zone Management Division
Zoe Pfahl Johnson, NOAA Coastal Management Fellow. Zoe Johnson is a post-graduate
researcher assisting the State in developing an adaptive sea level response strategy. Maryland’s
framework for a response strategy is built around three components: 1) shoreline
characterization, 2) policy analysis, and 3) on-going public input and outreach.

Coastal Bays Program
Coastal Bays Management Plan is a comprehensive conservation and management plan for
Maryland’s coastal bays. The Plan delineates goals, actions needed to complete those goals and
strategies needed to complete each action including associated costs. Four sections comprise the
Plan: Water Quality, Fish and Wildlife, recreation and Navigation, and community and
Economic Development.

Coastal and Watershed Resources Adivsory Committee (CWRAC)
Have addressed the impacts of climate change and sea level rise in the Chesapeake Bay
watershed including a forum in May, 1999; recommended inclusion of sea level rise issues in the
Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement.
Shore Erosion Task Force
Appointed by the Governor, this group developed a comprehensive action plan to address shore
erosion (reference State of Maryland, Shore Erosion Task Force, Final Report, 2000).

Chesapeake Bay Program, Chesapeake Bay 2000 Agreement
The section titled “Vital Habitat Protection and Restoration, Wetlands” includes
recommendations to “continue to evaluate the potential impact of climate change on the
Chesapeake Bay watershed, particularly its wetlands”.

Federal Government

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Website “Global Warming” includes numerous articles relating to climate change, sea level rise
and wetland loss.

James G. Titus has written numerous articles about the implications of sea level rise in coastal
regions of Maryland.
    “Rising Seas, Coastal Erosion and the Takings clause: How to save wetlands and beaches
    without hurting property owners”
    “The Probability of Sea Level Rise”
    “Potential Impacts of sea level rise on the beach at Ocean City, Maryland”

United State Geological Survey (USGS)
The USGS has produced numerous online documents, fact sheets and scientific research relating
to sea level rise and the Chesaepake Bay.
      Article: “The Chesapeake Bay: Geologic Product of Rising Sea Level”
      Map:       Satellite map of the Chesapeake Bay will aid resource management by providing
                 information about recent surface conditions that can be compared with historical
                 and future images of the Bay.

Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. Laurel, Maryland

Michael R. Erwin, Principal Investigator. Michael Erwin researches the effects of estuary and
marsh inundation caused by sea level rise and waterfowl habitat.

Dr. Donald Cahoon, National Wetlands Research Center. Donald Cahoon has established a
research program to evaluate: 1) wetland sedimentation processes in marshes and increases in
sea level, and 2) the processes of wetland loss and the effectiveness of restoration techniques at
restoring intertidal marsh elevations and vegetated marsh.
Issues Relating to Sea Level Rise

1. Wetland loss
2. Habitat loss
3. Shoreline erosion
4. Riparian Law with respect to private property
   • current shoreline stabilization practices contribute to and accelerate rate of permanent
      shoreline loss
   • future planning with respect to shoreline stabilization/protection of private property
5. Response plan for the State
6. Regulatory role in helping to reduce losses
           Summary of “Sea Level Rise Response Planning in the State of Maryland”
                                   by Zoe Pfahl Johnson
                             Department of Natural Resources
                            Coastal Zone Management Division

1) Historically, the average rate of sea level rise along Maryland’s coastline has been three to
   four millimeters per year or approximately one foot per century. These rates are nealry twice
   those of the estimated global average. Current scientific research indicates that continued
   climate change and land subsidence will cause an acceleration of sea level rise rates,
   resulting ins a rise of two to three feet along Maryland’s shores by the year 2100.

2) Although primary impacts of sea level rise will vary along different reaches of shoreline,
   there is general consensus that