Last week, the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) released an overall B- score for Maryland’s adaptation to climate change in coastal areas in their 2021 report card.
Coastal adaptation refers to the actions taken to improve the ability of a community or ecosystem to respond to and withstand climate change impacts. For example, shoreline protection projects provide buffering against storm surges, and green infrastructure can slow stormwater runoff, reducing the impact heavy rains have on communities. Climate change is causing increasingly frequent and severe storms, hotter summers, warmer winters, sea level rise, and changes in precipitation patterns.
“Maryland continues to be a leader in adaptation,” said Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio. “Establishing indicators will help ensure that Maryland continues to make progress to protect our communities, economies, and natural resources now and in the future.”
According to the UMCES press release,
The report card scored adaptation progress across Maryland’s coastal counties through 15 indicators divided in four categories—ecosystem, flooding, planning, and socioeconomic.
The ecosystem and planning categories score an A and a B+, respectively. Particular success has been seen in maintaining wetland acreage and in using dredge materials for restoration. Floodplain populations have also been reduced, decreasing the potential threat of coastal emergencies. Continued effort is still required to improve certain indicators, such as integrating and updating data and flood risk visualizations, including maps, as climate projections change.
Progress toward meeting flooding and socioeconomic adaptation goals is moderate, with both categories scoring a C. Many indicators in these categories, such as loss coverage through flood insurance, miss adaptation targets and require further action. The most urgent challenges are the location of critical facilities that must remain operational in emergencies in flood hazard areas and the need to adapt certain previously flooded properties to withstand future climate events.