Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Florida under water: Global warming and rising sea levels

Posted By on Tue, May 31, 2011 at 4:00 PM

The Florida coastline after a sea level rise of 3 meters.
  • The Florida coastline after a sea level rise of 3 meters.
Almost every resident in the Tampa Bay area lives very close to sea level. This fact puts Florida and the Tampa Bay area at the front lines of the fight against global warming, whether we want to be there or not. It is unnerving to look at a United States map of rise in sea level predictions, and notice that your home is in the area that is going to see the first and worst of the problem. In short, scientists predict that Pinellas county and the rest of the Tampa Bay area will be under water in less than 100 years.

The Florida coastline after a sea level rise of 6 meters.
  • The Florida coastline after a sea level rise of 6 meters.
Harold Wanless, chairman of the University of Miami's Department of Geological Sciences was interviewed by Fox News and said that a three foot rise in sea level is going to cause problems for Florida. He says that a four foot rise, "becomes extremely difficult to live in South Florida, and [at] five feet probably impossible."

This may sound far off and unimportant, but the Florida coast is already seeing signs of sea level rise. Jeffrey Chanton, the John Widmer Winchester Professor of Oceanography Ph.D. at UNC,was quoted by World-Mysteries.com as saying that "Along the marshy Gulf Coast of Florida, the effects of sea level rise can be observed in the number of dead cabbage palms at the seaward edge of the salt marsh."

A graph of the daily Arctic sea ice extent as of May, 2011, along with daily ice extents for other low-ice years.
  • http://nsidc.org/arcticseaicenews/index.html
  • A graph of the daily Arctic sea ice extent as of May, 2011, along with daily ice extents for other low-ice years.

You may be wondering why all these scientists are so convinced that Florida will flood. Sea levels are predicted to rise because global warming is currently melting the Arctic sea ice, Antarctic ice shelves, and the Greenland ice sheet. If any one of these melts, it could cause catastrophic problems for Florida and the world. The Arctic sea ice has been steadily declining in recent years.

But do you need to worry yet? Yes and no. While it is important that we all work to lower our carbon emissions to be kinder to our ozone layer, I wouldn’t worry about avoiding on-the-water real-estate just yet. But it may be in your best interest to understand what is happening to our local coastlines, and be aware of what may happen to those coastlines in the future.

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