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Impact on South Florida

So our climate is changing -- what does that mean to us in South Florida?

Recent computer models have calculated that global surface temperatures could increase between 1.6-6.3 degrees F by 2100. Current scientific consensus is that we should expect a change of about 3 degrees F. This may not seem like much of a change over 100 years, but temperatures were only 9 degrees cooler during the last ice age (10,000 years ago).

One of the reasons Global Warming is now being called "Global Climate Change" is because the expected outcome of this world-wide temperature shift is that there will be greater (and less predictable) variability in regional and local climate. Here in Florida, we could see significant shifts in rainfall patterns, resulting in more severe droughts and more intense flooding.

The biggest concern for South Florida, especially in Miami-Dade County, is the threat of "sea level rise." The oceans are expected to swell as the world becomes warmer. Ice melting from the poles will add to the volume of the oceans and the warmer oceans resulting from a warmer atmosphere will actually cause the oceans to grow in volume (warm water expands; cold water contracts). The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) predicts that Florida will see a rise in sea level of about 18-20 inches by the next century.

Higher seas means more than just less beachfront. Miami-Dade would become more vulnerable from storm damage. Wetlands and coastal mangroves would be lost to a rising sea, impacting our commercial fisheries and even our water supply as the ocean pushes westward and north into the Everglades and the Biscayne Aquifer.

Temperature sensitive coral reefs will suffer from warmer oceans. Coral thrives in a thin temperature band between 70 and 75 degrees F. Many in the scientific community believe that the rapid loss of corals throughout the world is partially attributable to warmer ocean waters.

The areas that are most susceptible to impacts due to changes in sea level rise are the areas already subject to flooding by major rain events and storm surges. These areas are called flood zones and are shown in Miami-Dade County's Flood Zone GIS Map.

For additional information in unincorporated areas, please contact Miami-Dade Flood Zone hotline at 305-372-6466.

If you live in a incorporated area, please contact the municipality where you reside in for more information on flooding and flood zones.

All of this is not good news for a state dependent on tourism based largely on its natural resources. The loss of beachfront, corals and the Everglades would devastate our local economy.

So what can we do to prevent global climate change?

Learn more from publications from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

If you cannot view PDF Get Acrobat! files, you can download Acrobat Reader  for free from Adobe Systems, Inc. In order to use PDF files, you must have Acrobat installed on your computer.

Back to Top Page Last Edited: Fri Aug 9, 2013 12:15:16 PM
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