Sea level rise
6:30 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Documenting Evidence Of Climate Change

A damaged stretch of A1A
Credit Charles Trainor Jr. / Miami Herald

For South Florida, climate change isn't part of some vague future; it's a reality today.  South Florida has seen nine inches of of sea-level rise since the 1920s.

But keeping South Florida dry is complicated by, among other factors, the area's porous limestone foundation, as a recent Rolling Stone article points out.  Florida can't just follow Mayor Michael Bloomberg's plan for New York City and barricade itself against rising seas.

We asked members of our Public Insight Network if they have seen evidence of climate change in their communities.

Diana Abu-Jaber from Fort Lauderdale tells us her neighbors have been rebuilding their docks two or more feet higher. Hers is one of the last at the original height.

The dock behind our new house was under about a foot of water after Hurricane Sandy last fall. In the morning when the weather cleared, there were two fish flopping around on the dock.

Some responses highlight that even if the causes of climate change are global, locally we could do a better job managing the effects. Betty King from Miami Beach has noticed changes in sea level with the “frequent flooding” near her home on the Venetian Causeway, particularly at high tide or a full moon.

Undoubtedly affected by climate change but also by City of Miami Beach's inadequate response to this growing problem.

Flooding and high tide, exacerbated by higher sea levels, have also damaged A1A in Fort Lauderdale. The fact that a four lane stretch of that road may permanently be reduced to two lanes, one each way, caught Charles Summers’ attention.

He also worries about the future of the Turkey Point nuclear power plant located east of Homestead. Currently, the plant has nuclear waste stored 15 feet above ground.  “Let's also forget about placing more nuke power plants on the shore,” Summers commented on our live chat for this week’s Florida Roundup. Though the plant survived a hit from the eye of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, some are unsure that the waste containment units will be able to withstand storm surge.

Evidence in South Florida of climate change is not just in the rising waters, but perhaps the temperature of the water as well.  Renee Fuentes of Miami Springs says the warmer ocean water throughout the year, though more pleasant for her, has her worried about the future.

I remember as a child growing up here in South Florida, and I’m born in 1957… I would not go near the beach to bathe from October through April. And I know that now, we can bathe, all year round.

While we haven't found temperatures specific to the coast of South Florida, the Atlantic ocean in the Northeast has seen its highest temperatures in 150 years, according to an NOAA report.

Tell us what changes you've seen in your community.  If the Rolling Stone article, alarmingly named “Goodbye Miami,” is right, South Florida will continue to see even more effects from climate change.