Docstoc

The Effects of Sea Level Rise on Florida

Document Sample
The Effects of Sea Level Rise on Florida Powered By Docstoc
					                                                         PEW ENVIRONMENT GROUP




The Effects of Sea Level Rise on Florida
Warming temperatures are threatening Florida’s coastline. According to the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), sea levels in the United States are predicted to rise, on
average, by as much as two feet in this century.1 Sea level rise from expanding ocean water and
melting mountain glaciers, threatens habitats and wildlife, erodes beaches and increases flooding.
Warmer temperatures also increase the intensity of storms. As a result, Floridians will bear the
economic burden of adaptation measures required to preserve beaches and protect coastal
properties.2

The Consequences
As sea levels rise, beaches and areas such as the Florida Keys will likely suffer serious
consequences. Florida is particularly susceptible to storm-related damages and erosion from
increasingly frequently experiences hurricanes and other severe weather events.3 Currently,
Florida pays $30 million dollars a year for beach replenishment and that amount is projected to
rise.4 Animals and native plants are also likely to suffer as higher sea levels destroy Everglades
and swamp habitats.5

Wetter Wetlands
Coastal wetlands are at risk of erosion from sea level rise due to their proximity to the sea. As
levels rise, present wetland ecosystems will become open water, and new wetlands will be
created further inland. Increased efforts to control rising sea levels with barriers such as man-
made dikes will limit the amount of coastland available for wetlands to re-form.6 Species
inhabiting estuaries or using them as breeding ground will be forced to migrate, a change that
could potentially reduce their populations.

Vanishing Vacationlands
With over 1,000 miles of coastline,7 Florida’s waterfront property and building sites near the
coast could be destroyed by rising sea levels unless extensive flood control occurs.8 Low-lying
areas will be vulnerable to storms and flooding as shorelines and the natural barriers they form
are lost.9 Consequently, hundreds of acres of buildable land will disappear.

The Cost
In order to protect developed coastal areas from encroaching sea levels, more man-made
structures such as bulkheads and dikes will be needed.10 It currently costs hundreds of millions
of dollars to maintain current water levels and the cost for the state, companies, and individuals
with coastal property is projected to rise.11 The cost alone of replenishing beach sand lost to sea
level rise will require billions of dollars in state funds.12 According to the IPCC, sand
replenishment for a sea level rise of 20 inches could cost between $1.7 billion and $8.8 billion.13
The expense of storm clean up will also increase as coasts erode and storms are more damaging
due to the lack of barriers.

                              WWW.PEWGLOBALWARMING.ORG
    For more information contact Laura Lightbody, Pew Campaign on Global Warming, at
                                 llightbody@pewtrusts.org.




1
  IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, April, 2007, Working Group II, “Climate Change 2007: Impacts,
Adaptation, and Vulnerability.” Chapter 14, <www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-
chapter14.pdf>.
2
  U.S. EPA, August 2008, “Coastal Zones and Sea Level Rise,”
<www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/coastal/index.html>.
3
  The Heinz Center, April 2000, “Evaluation of Erosion Hazards.” Chapter 2,
<www.heinzctr.org/publications/PDF/erosnrpt.pdf#pagemode=bookmarks&view=Fit>.
4
  EPA, March 2002, “Saving Florida’s Vanishing Shores.”
<www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/coastal/saving_FL.pdf>.
5
  Ibid.
6
  Ibid.
7
  State of Florida, <www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=95>.
8
  IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, April, 2007, Working Group II, “Climate Change 2007: Impacts,
Adaptation, and Vulnerability.” Chapter 14, op. cit.
9
  EPA, August 2008, “Coastal Zones and Sea Level Rise,”
<www.epa.gov/climatechange/effects/coastal/index.html>.
10
   Ibid.
11
   IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, April, 2007. Working Group II, “Climate Change 2007: Impacts,
Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” Chapter 6, <www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/wg2/ar4-wg2-
chapter6.pdf>.
12
   IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, April, 2007. Working Group II, “Climate Change 2007: Impacts,
Adaptation, and Vulnerability,” Chapter 14, op. cit.
13 13
      IPCC Fourth Assessment Report, April, 2007. Working Group II, Chapter 14, op. cit.




                              WWW.PEWGLOBALWARMING.ORG

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Stats:
views:33
posted:5/3/2010
language:English
pages:2