Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2019

Department 1

Environmental Studies


As climate change is becoming a global issue, the impact of sea level rise is increasingly becoming a threat to humans, wildlife, infrastructure, and ecosystems. To evaluate the effects of sea level rise on barrier islands and coastal regions, we studied future projections of sea level rise at Ocean City and Assateague Island, Maryland. We hypothesize that the sea levels at Assateague and Ocean City will have different beach profiles, and will show different levels of flooding through the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) simulations. We measured beach profiles at four locations, two at Ocean City and two at Assateague Island, to view the current beach profiles and found that Ocean City reveals a smaller average change in elevation compared to Assateague. We also used a LiDAR Digital Elevation Model (DEM) of Ocean City and Assateague Island to run RCP 2.6, RCP 4.5, and RCP 8.5 simulations using GIS to represent the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) projected sea level rise for the year 2100. We found that Ocean City has higher predicted percentages of flooded land but smaller areas of flooded land compared to Assateague. These results indicate that significant areas of both Ocean City and Assateague Island will be flooded by 2100 regardless of which RCP simulation might be true. However, it is projected that the RCP 2.6 simulation is an underestimation of potential flooding and the future will more closely resemble the RCP 8.5 simulation if drastic precautions are not taken now. This will severely impact ecosystems, economies, and human life.


Written for ES 400: Science and Stories of Climate Change.