Understanding the Risks of Rising Sea Levels in Florida
By 2100, Florida could experience sea levels rise of up to 6 feet, which could put over 900,000 properties at risk of being underwater. A report by real estate company Zillow predicts that one in eight Florida properties could be affected by rising sea levels. The state is also the most at-risk area in the world, outside of China, for economic damage caused by climate change, according to a report by climate risk specialists XDI.
Florida’s geography makes it vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Most of the state’s 18 million residents live within 60 miles of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, and it has over 1,200 miles of coastline. William Sweet, an oceanographer for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, warns that Florida sea levels, like much of the US, are headed for a 1-foot rise by 2050 and at least a 2-foot rise by 2100. This could increase significantly if emissions and resulting ocean and atmospheric heating continue to increase.
Rising sea levels could cause economic damage, affect real estate, and put people’s lives at risk. South Florida has already experienced over a 1-foot rise in sea level in the past century, and the sea level is currently rising at a rate of nearly 3 feet per century and accelerating. This, combined with major hurricanes increasing in frequency, could cause significant devastation by storm surges, wind, and rain damage.
Mitigating the Risks of Rising Sea Levels in Florida
To mitigate the risks of rising sea levels, experts recommend building higher seawalls, elevating roadways, and fortifying infrastructure like stormwater systems. Harold Wanless, a geography professor at the University of Miami, emphasizes that reduced emissions with less ocean and atmospheric warming is the best solution to ensure less end-of-century sea level rise and flooding problems. A global effort is necessary to address this problem.