Md. gets passing grade on coastal climate change preparedness with room for improvement

A new report card from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) that grades a state’s coastal adaptability as it relates to climate change gave Maryland a passing grade, but says there is room for improvement.

The report scored the state on how well it was preparing for the impact of climate change on coastal regions in four categories: ecosystem, flooding, planning and socioeconomic.

Overall, the state received a B- from the report, noting shortfalls in preparation for flooding and socioeconomic impact of climate change.

The ecosystem and planning categories received grades of A and B+ respectively.

“Particular success has been seen in maintaining wetland acreage and in using dredge materials for restoration,” a news release Thursday from UMCES said. “Flood plain populations have also been reduced, decreasing the potential threat of coastal emergencies.”

The report says the state needs to improve certain indicators, “such as integrating and updating data and flood risk visualizations, including maps, as climate projections change.”

The flooding and socioeconomic adaptation goals were each given a C grade, with the report noting that progress toward meeting goals in that category had been moderate thus far.

“Many indicators in these categories, such as loss coverage through flood insurance, miss adaptation targets and require further action,” the release said. “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.”

The report was compiled through a series of stakeholder workshops that identified the threats presented by climate change and then looked at how the threats are addressed.

One of the researchers who assembled the report card said one of the biggest struggles in bringing it together was finding sufficient data.

“Coastal adaptation is increasingly important as we see the impact of climate change on our region,” said Science Integrator Katie May Laumann, who led the development of the report card at the UMCES’ Integration and Application Network. “The biggest challenge in developing the report card was finding adequate data. Data gaps also present challenges to managers planning for adaptation. Filling these gaps is important to inform planning and management decisions to improve Maryland’s adaptation status.”

Zeke Hartner

Zeke Hartner is a digital writer/editor who has been with WTOP since 2017. He is a graduate of North Carolina State University’s Political Science program and an avid news junkie.

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