Sea Levels Already Rising along Florida Coast
Federal and state policymakers are turning a blind eye toward unmistakable evidence of rising sea levels affecting Florida coastal areas, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Within the next twenty years, predicted sea level rises will begin to inundate much of the Florida coastline, as well as low-lying open lands, starting with the Everglades.
Sea level rises are already being recorded in Florida, about 10 inches during the last century (at a rate of 2.3 millimeters per year as measured by tide gauge data). Due to global warming, melting ice caps and thermal expansion of the oceans as they warm, the rate of sea level rise is predicted to accelerate. Based upon data developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), estimated sea level rises for Southwest Florida will range from 2.8 inches to 10.6 inches by 2025. At that rate, sea level increases would double to 2 feet this century and rise another 3 feet next century – for a net rise of 5 feet by 2200. An EPA report titled “The Probability of Sea Level Rise” has a predicted a range of sea level rise from as low as 21 inches with a 90% probability to 177 inches with a 1% probability.
In the near-term, higher sea levels will lead to higher hurricane storm surges, resulting in greater property damage. In addition, saltwater intrusion will compromise the quality and available quantities of fresh water, as well as change vegetation patterns. In the long-term, coastal areas, wetlands and many other undeveloped lands will simply disappear altogether, or exist only behind sea barricades.
“Florida will be a modern Atlantis with its most expensive real estate under water,” stated Florida PEER Director Jerry Phillips, noting that much of the $12 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration now under construction may be underwater in less than 50 years. “We had better begin planning now for how to handle these rising tides.” ...[go to rest of article]