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The state of Maryland has over 3,000 miles of coastline along its bays, beaches, islands, and tidal rivers. Marylanders have relied on close cultural and economic connections to the coast for centuries. Today, more than 4 million people, comprising over 70 percent of the state’s population, reside in Maryland’s coastal zone and continue this tradition of living, working, and recreating on the coast.
However, due to the impacts of a changing climate, Maryland’s coastal region, which includes 16 counties and Baltimore City, is now facing a variety of challenges that threaten human safety, property, and natural ecosystems. In particular, rising sea levels, changing precipitation patterns, and warming air and ocean temperatures are all presenting significant issues for Maryland’s coast:
We are working to help coastal residents, decision-makers, and resource managers in Maryland address these climate-related challenges. Our efforts include:
Maryland Sea Grant Extension specialists partner with local governments, state and federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and residents to support local efforts for improving coastal climate resilience. We work with coastal communities to help them understand the effects of climate change and sea level rise and prepare for climate-related hazards. We also assist communities with identifying areas of vulnerability and incorporating climate adaptation into their planning efforts. Through workshops, surveys, and town-hall meetings, we share information about coastal resilience work to facilitate partnerships and collaborations among interested parties throughout the region.
Find out more about our efforts to support climate adaptation in coastal communities.
The Chesapeake Bay Sentinel Site Cooperative (CBSSC) is one of the five sentinel site cooperatives within the national NOAA Sentinel Site Program (SSP). The CBSSC offers resources for coastal community planners, natural resource managers, and other stakeholders to understand and more effectively plan for the impacts of rising sea levels and inundation. It is made up of federal, state, and local partners as well as eight “sentinel sites” located around the Chesapeake and coastal bays.
The CBSSC uses its network of sentinel site researchers to measure the impacts of sea level rise in the Bay region. At each sentinel site, researchers conduct intensive studies and sustained observation to detect and understand changes in coastal ecosystems. Monitoring data collection include: water levels, surface elevation tables, vegetation sampling, water quality, and meteorological data. The CBSSC is particularly interested in the effect of sea level rise on tidal wetlands and the ecological processes which cause marshes to persist, shift, or decline in the face of higher water levels. This research can help inform relative sea level rise predictions and associated ecological impacts, which have management implications. For instance, which marshes should be protected, which would benefit from restoration, and what land might become good marsh in the future?
Maryland Sea Grant hosts the CBSSC’s coordinator, who works with each of the sentinel sites to improve integration of research and outreach across the Chesapeake and coastal bays. The coordinator works to make the latest research on sea level impacts accessible to stakeholders and helps bring stakeholders together to discuss the science and its implications for land use.