Baltimore, after 12 feet of sea level rise

baltimore 12 feet nyt

Baltimore’s waterfront after 12 feet of sea level rise, a stage we’ll likely reach in 288 years at current warming rates, scientists say.

Photo by: The New York Times

Farewell, Fells Point! So long, Port of Baltimore!

Just a couple of the casualties of a 12-foot sea level rise – the change that Baltimore, and the planet, can expect in about 288 years if climate change continues, according to estimates by two climate experts published in The New York Times.

“Now we are in a new warming phase, and the oceans are rising again after thousands of years of stability. As scientists who study sea level change and storm surge, we fear that Hurricane Sandy gave only a modest preview of the dangers to come, as we continue to power our global economy by burning fuels that pollute the air with heat-trapping gases,” write Robert Kopp, assistant professor of earth and planetary sciences at Rutgers University and Benjamin Strauss, director of the sea level rise program at the research group Climate Central, in the Times piece.

According to the data they complied, the year 2300 doesn’t look so good for Baltimore or the other major American cities the two studied.

The maps they compiled, using U.S. Geological Survey elevation charts and tidal level data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, show coastal and low-lying areas that would – without the engineered protection of levees and pumping stations – be permanently underwater in different scenarios.

With 12 feet of sea level rise, Baltimore would see 5% of dry, habitable land within the city limits permanently submerged. (The grey blue in the map above.)

Sparrows Island

Along with scads of pricey waterfront real estate, more than half of Sparrows Point be underwater in this scenario. In fact, the peninsula would become an island.

This would essentially take the now-idle steel property back to its pre-1880s wetlands state.

Originally, there were two inlets from Bear Creek – Humphreys Creek and Greys Creek – that cut deep into the center of Sparrows Point.

These creeks were filled in with mill waste years ago, but apparently not high enough to protect the peninsula from invading water that would follow their original contours across the northern neck of the peninsula.

Harbor Depths

Wait a little while longer, of course – and fail to curb our climate-altering ways – and the geography would change even more dramatically, the scientists say.

Kiss Dundalk and lots of downtown Baltimore bye-bye whenever sea levels rise 25 feet. (Information graphic, The New York Times)

Kiss Dundalk and much of downtown Baltimore bye-bye “in a couple of centuries,” if/when sea levels rise 25 feet. (Information graphic, The New York Times)

With 25 feet of sea level rise in the coming centuries, some 12% of Baltimore will be permanently submerged. Dundalk would be no more. The Inner Harbor, City Hall and many blocks inland would be swamped.

Harbor East would become Harbor Depths, while South Baltimore would become an island fortress anchored by Federal Hill.

We don’t fare as badly as some cities, it should be noted.

Most of Manhattan would also be gone, as would be Miami, Virginia Beach and New Orleans.

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  • ushanellore

    Population control is the answer.  Untrammeled proliferation of the human species is the underlying cause of all its woes.  The waste we create decays and spews methane into the atmosphere–methane is as green house as CO2

    We cut trees down mercilessly–sometimes to race cars in the hearts of cities.  Grand Prix is a euphemism for grand profligacy. 

    I just read an article about the arrogant Bohemian Club, a rotten society of narcissistic good old boys, who meet once a year in San Francisco, in a grove of redwood trees.    The blokes, some of whom have run America from time to time, have been destroying the titan redwoods over which they claim complete dominion.  They have cowed environmental groups with their forest management implausible clap trap.  Their glib explanations about why they are axing the gorgeous redwoods don’t wash but that doesn’t bother them a bit. 

    The redwoods create a fireproof, moist ecosystem full of unique organisms but nature’s fertile dance be damned for the Bohemians whose only motivating force is avarice and the sheer audacity of, “We’ll cut because we can!”  I cringe to think that many of these absolutely senseless brutes have held positions of power in this country and carved out policies for princely presidents. 

    The fate that is coming is nightmarish but a lot of folks will pooh pooh it.  One of the skeptics who’ll appear on the scene will be the high brow Hunt.  The disbelievers will die with snide remarks on their lips as the waves roll over their heads.  They will declare the rise of the oceans no more than a cyclical natural development, inevitable from time immemorial, and global warming to them will always remain a figment of extreme imagination.        

    • James Hunt

       Population control is the answer.  Untrammeled proliferation of the
      human species is the underlying cause of all its woes.  …


      Population control? You first, dear. Thanks for the name check, by the way.

  • Jake

    “Dundalk would be no more.” See no-one ever talks about the GOOD things global warming will do.

  • ushanellore

    I knew the mean and snooty remarks about Dundalk were not far off.  Henrietta Lackhs mother of the HeLa cells lived there once.  Poor Dundalk.  It stirs the snidest comments and the most scornful passions in some humans.  Those who hate it the most are often people who never set foot in it. 

  • James Hunt

    Good news, Unella: “US Winning the War Against the Young: Birth Rate Plunges”

    Of course, that’s just here (plus Europe, Japan, and Russia). In the Global South, they’re still making them some beautiful babies. Maybe they’ll move here to take care of us when we’re old. Or not.  What did Ebenezer Scrooge say about “reducing the surplus population?” Maybe in their eyes, we _are_ the surplus population. Hey, BTW, U … you DO know that server farms are huge energy sucks/CO2 dispensers, right? Maybe we should all layoff the keyboards for a while and give Mother Gaia a break …

  • ushanellore

    J Hunt–heard the good news.  Indeed, I know about server farms.  I am not on any social media sites Hunt.  The Brew is an indulgence, I agree.  Those now alive should not be preaching non existence for those not yet alive– noble sentiment.   But what do you propose?  Factories in the South to hatch babies and export them as indentured servants for the oldie baldie immortals of the North, until the Earth boils over and evaporates?  Or are you a climate change denier?  Staunch in your belief that cyclical climate changes plague us due to the vagaries of nature?

    • James Hunt

      Ushanellore wrote: “… Or are you a climate change denier? Staunch in your belief that cyclical climate changes plague us due to the vagaries of nature?”


      Everything changes always. There are no constants, even in climate. And, yeah, I have a lot of respect for the “vagaries of nature.” See, my old property in New Hampshire had an ice sheet on it a mile thick 10 thousand years ago, and “glacial erratics” are all over the woods up there to this day. My old house up there was built shortly after 1816 (also known as “The Year Without a Summer” and “Eighteen Hundred and Froze to Death) by one of the few people who didn’t get out of that part of New Hampshire after that miserable stretch of cold. So, yeah, nature’s a bee-yotch. As for me, I had enough of 25-below winter temps and moved back to sunny Baltimore. Bring on the heat!

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