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.)
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.
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.
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.