- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Extreme precipitation increased in frequency by 55 percent in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic over the past six decades, according to a new report by the nonprofit advocacy group Environment Maryland.
The report, “When It Rains, It Pours,” by the organization's research and policy arm, examined trends in rain and snowstorms in the context of global warming nationwide.
Across the contiguous United States, extreme rainstorms and snowstorms are occurring 30 percent more frequently than in 1948, the report says.
For Maryland and the mid-Atlantic region, the extreme storms now are happening almost every eight months on average, compared with every 12 months in 1948.
The report also found that the biggest rain and snowstorms were increasing in magnitude in the mid-Atlantic. The amount of precipitation released by the largest annual storms in Maryland increased by 14 percent from 1948 to 2011.
Last spring, Environment Maryland released “In The Path of the Storm: Global Warming, Extreme Weather and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States,” which argued that global warming can be ameliorated by taking proactive measures nationally to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and pollution.
The measures include the use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar, energy- and fuel-efficiency standards for buildings and vehicles, “smart grid” technologies, and federal and state energy emission-reduction goals for power plants and the transportation sector.
Tommy Landers, director of Environment Maryland, said the report indicates that global warming could have a particularly severe impact on the state because of its geography.
“The report shows how fragile we are,” he said.
Global warming affects urban areas in the form of increased stormwater pollution, Landers said. It affects agricultural areas through reduced productivity, and it results in rising sea levels in the Chesapeake Bay region, he added.
A U.S. Senate committee held a hearing this year on the latest climate change science and related local efforts.
Landers pointed to the 2009 Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act, which requires a 25 percent reduction statewide in such emissions from 2006 levels by 2020.
“This is much more than other states have done,” he said.
A final report on how to accomplish the reduction is due Dec. 31.
“Maryland has a great opportunity to take the lead in addressing this complex, but solvable, problem,” Landers said.