Resilience is the ability to cope with adverse shocks and stresses, and to adapt and learn to live with changes and uncertainty. Climate change and sea level rise are long term stresses that will amplify other issues in our county from intensifying storm events and hurricanes to impacting human health and social vulnerability.
With its ongoing Sea Level Rise Strategy project, Miami-Dade County is identifying and developing financially-feasible mitigation and adaptation strategies to prepare for sea level rise and coastal storms. This includes analyzing multiple "adaptation pathways" and quantifying the economic cost of inaction.
Sea Level Rise projections
For planning purposes, the county relies upon the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact's Unified Sea Level Rise Projection for Southeast Florida. Regionally, sea levels are expected to be 14 to 26 inches higher than 1992 levels by 2060.
Miami-Dade County's 3-D sea level rise viewer, which includes a 3-D layer of buildings in the county, allows planners and residents to view the impact of sea level rise, from one foot to six feet.
Impacts of Sea Level Rise
Miami-Dade County is located in a unique geographical area as it is surrounded by major bodies of water such as the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay and many rivers, lakes and canals. Rising sea levels lead to other issues including:
Coastal erosion. Sea level rise is increasing coastal erosion rates.
Storm surge. Sea level rise can increase the height of storm surge.
King tide flooding. Sea level rise is causing King Tides to happen more frequently, last longer and extend farther inland.
Urban flooding. Urban flooding can be caused by short-duration, very heavy rain events. Urbanization creates large areas of impervious surfaces (such as roads, pavement, parking lots and buildings) that heavy downpours can exceed the capacity of storm drains and cause floods.
Saltwater intrusion. Rising sea levels cause saltwater to "intrude" further landward into the freshwater Biscayne Aquifer, increasing the vulnerability of the region’s drinking water to saltwater intrusion. Additionally, rising sea levels push salt water further into the Everglades, potentially causing loss of wetland plants and habitat.
Infrastructure impacts. Due to higher water levels in Biscayne Bay, it takes longer to drain roadways when it rains, and some low-lying roads are directly inundated by high tides. Additionally, rising sea levels increase the flood risk for buildings near the coast.
- Septic Systems Vulnerable to Sea Level Rise - Nov. 2018 report
Socioeconomic impacts. Flooding can damage property, interrupt business and increase insurance costs.
Adapting to Sea Level RiseAs Miami-Dade County works to reduce its carbon footprint and stop fueling climate change, it must also prepare for the impacts that we know are unavoidable, including sea level rise. The County is working to strengthen infrastructure, plan for more resilient communities, enhance natural protections and promote economic resilience through policies and task forces.
- The Sea Level Rise Task Force provided direction for the County’s sea level rise adaptation efforts, resulting in a series of reports:
- Executive summary
- Flooding and saltwater intrusion
- Adaptation action
- Environmentally endangered lands
- Enhanced capital plan
- Climate Change Advisory Task Force
- Resilient transportation system
- Capital Project Overview and the Rapid Action Plan. Miami-Dade County requires that all capital projects consider the impacts of sea level rise, per Resolution No. R-451-14. In 2017, the County assessed the vulnerability of its assets to ensure the capital planning process incorporated changing flood risks due to sea level rise and heightened storm surge. Dubbed the Rapid Action Plan, the project analyzed the vulnerability of more than 700 County-owned assets and evaluated their criticality to departmental operations
- Adaptation Action Areas. The County's pilot Adaptation Action Area was the Arch Creek Basin. In 2016, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) hosted an advisory services panel that produced a final report which focused on the area’s flood challenges. In advance of that panel, the County published a briefing book. In 2015, ULI’s recommendations were taken further through a Resilient Redesign III charrette aimed at enhancing the resilience of three low-lying areas within the Arch Creek basin. The final presentation showcases the ideas of the design teams. In 2017, with support from the Knight Foundation, the County partnered with Citymart to launch a Flood Resilience Challenge
- Local Mitigation Strategy. Local mitigation strategy projects handled by Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue and Emergency Management are designed to reduce our vulnerability to short-term risks like hurricanes and long-term stresses like sea level rise
- Infrastructure improvements include raising roads, installing pump stations, protecting existing buildings with temporary flood panels and building new infrastructures higher. Saltwater intrusion is also being addressed. Salt water is pushing further landward into the fresh water Biscayne Aquifer, which is increasing the vulnerability of the region’s drinking water. Rising sea levels also push salt water further into the Everglades, potentially causing loss of wetland plants and habitat. Salinity control structures have been built at the entrances of major canals to separate fresh water and salt water and canals have been restored through plug barriers. Explore the Sea Level Rise story map to learn more
- Nature-based solutions such as beach renourishment, shoreline restoration for living shorelines like mangroves and dune restoration, protection of open buffer space through parks and the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program, and protection of mangrove forests and other wetlands of the Everglades to provide a protective buffer against storms and long-term sea level rise. The County has also built artificial reefs to keep ecosystems healthy and support fishing industries
Preparation is keyPreparing for sea level rise and flooding
- Sea levels have been rising globally and similar changes have been seen in Miami-Dade County.
- Visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Flood Exposure Map to determine if your neighborhood is prone to flooding, vulnerable to storm surge or likely to be affected by sea level rise
- Learn how to protect your home against flooding risks with insurance or protective measures.
- South Florida is a unique geographical area and particularly susceptible to flooding.
- The US Climate Resilience Toolkit from NOAA helps you understand and address your climate risks.
Preparing for storm surge and hurricanes