Sea levels around the Miami coast have gone up 3.7 inches (9.4 centimetres) in 19 years, Grist reported last week, meaning that “you don’t have to look 85 years into the future to see what a sinking world looks like.”
The research results show that sea level rise is accelerating, possibly faster than the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted, according to University of Miami atmospheric scientist Brian McNoldy. “The last five years saw an average increase of 1.27 inches of water per year,” Grist notes. “If that rate holds steady for the next 50 years (and if McNoldy is right, it will only get worse), high tide levels in Miami would go up over five feet.”
The result so far: inaccurate predictions of daily tides make it harder for the city to plan for severe weather, while salt water intrudes into fresh water aquifers. “Almost 90% of south Florida’s drinking water is supplied by porous limestone aquifers,” Patel writes. “Already, some cities have shut down wells because of saltwater contamination.”
Based on sea level data going back 20,000 years, McNoldy “estimates that the world could still have up to 100 feet of sea-level rise to go.”
Late last year, the Washington Post reported on a curious catch-22: Miami was building new waterfront condos to raise revenue for a $300-million storm water project to address sea level rise.
“The move makes budgetary sense in a state with no income tax,” the Post noted. “Much of south Florida’s public infrastructure is supported by property taxes.”