Miami’s Fight Against Rising Seas

Miami’s Fight Against Rising Seas.

States along the Eastern Seaboard are already feeling the impacts of climate change. Climate change, which is caused by the atmospheric build-up of heat-trapping greenhouse gases (GHGs) from fossil fuel combustion and other human activities, contributes to higher ocean temperatures (which in turn have been linked to increased intensity and frequency of hurricanes) and sea-level rise. As such, coasts and communities, even ones inland, are facing growing challenges from erosion, saltwater intrusion, and floods. These impacts have far reaching consequences for both natural and human communities along the coast from Miami to Maine. Coasts are critical to wildlife and people. Communities across the region depend on coastal beaches, bays, and islands for a wide array of benefits. These unique ecosystems provide habitat for wildlife such as fish and waterfowl and support robust tourism and recreation economies. They also serve as natural buffers against potentially damaging storms, and increasingly, against rising sea levels.

As GHG emissions have increased over the last century, warming seawater has expanded, glaciers have melted, and the great ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica have begun to weaken and break off into the ocean. This has led to an 8-inch rise in global average sea level over the past century. As global temperatures continue to increase, further sea-level rise is inevitable. Exactly how much and how fast sea-level rise will occur in the decades to come is difficult to determine, as it depends on how much global GHG emissions will increase and how glaciers and ice sheets will react to rising temperatures. What is clear, however, is that the more GHG emissions continue to increase, the higher sea level will climb. Projections for sea-level rise give reasons for
concern. According to the 2014 U.S. National Climate Assessment, global average sea level is estimated to rise another one to four feet by the end of this century, with some areas seeing even greater increases due to localised factors as land subsidence. Consider that under a 6.6 foot sea-level rise scenario alone, large areas of coastal cities, including parts of Boston, Atlantic City, Charleston, Virginia Beach, and Miami, would be under water. Credit: Changing Tides, National Wildlife Federation 2016.

This very long article focuses us on Miami and how the authorities have been coping with this threat.

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