Florida climate change

Global climate change is a hot topic; and yes it usually involves warming, although the scientific community prefers the term “change”, not “warming.”

It’s the sea level rise aspect global climate change that really has heads spinning in south Florida.

The reason is clear:

Not only do we have so much coastline, much of which is very densely developed (or in the process of being developed); even far inland land surface (and fresh water levels) remain pecariously low and flat.

Case in point in Big Cypress National Preserve is Gum Slough. It’s located a solid 5 miles upstream of the Mangroves, but fresh water levels drop to around a foot above sea level come the dry season.

In Everglades National Park, many of their marsh gages along the coast drop even lower: below sea level. That makes those areas the “Death Valley“, not Shark Valley, of freshwater marshes.

Death Valley is 280 feet below sea level (or in south Florida terms, about the height of three old growth cypress trees).

Of course sea level is a complicated term in south Florida.

There are two sea level datums in south Florida: the old one, NGVD 1929, and the new and more accurate one, NAVD 1988. The later is around 1.5 ft lower than the former, but that varies.

For the record, my mind, as a hydrologist, is wired to think in terms of NGVD 1929. It’s the historic standard in south Florida.

But more on that later.

Estimates vary widely.
If you’re of the mind set that the 5-day weather forecast is a waste of hot air, or that the annual hurricane prediction issued in April is 6 months premature, then you probably don’t have much patience for projections 200 years in the future.

(Personally, I’m not one of them: I believe that forecasting is the front line of science.)

Estimates range from as little as 1 ft rise to as much as 10 ft rise over the next 200 years, but the more likely estimate is somewhere in between.

Not to worry, at least in the short run, so long as you’ve built a sturdy sea wall around your coastal dwelling.

Here’s some articles on global warming and sea level rise in case you’ve missed them. Of particular interest is the separate scientific findings that global warming will either strengthen or weaken hurricane intensity. Of course William Gray — the father of the modern-day hurricane forecast, has held firm with a somewhat iconoclastic view on this topic.

More on that later too.

Here’s the articles.
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