Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Florida Senator Holds Miami Beach Hearing on Rising Sea Level

U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) speaks to the 2013 National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) convention in Orlando, Florida July 15, 2013. (Credit: Reuters/David Manning) Click to enlarge.
Climate change is already impacting south Florida coastal communities, which could see a three-foot rise in sea level by the end of the century, a panel of officials and scientists testified at a Senate hearing on Miami Beach on Tuesday.

"This is ground zero for sea-level rise," said Senator Bill Nelson, who hosted the hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Science and Space at Miami Beach City Hall.

Part of a series of statewide meetings organized by Nelson, the hearing coincided with Earth Day.

Florida had recorded between five and eight inches of sea level rise in the last 50 years, said Miami-born Nelson, noting that 75 percent of the state's population live near the coast.

"We'd best get about the process of recognizing what is happening all around us," the Democratic lawmaker said.

One Army Corps of Engineers forecast projects that the water around Miami could rise by up to 2 feet by 2060, even though the average elevation in localities like Miami Beach is less than 5 feet, Philip Levine, mayor of Miami Beach, said.  The region's porous geology forbids typical flood solutions like sea walls, putting billions of dollars of the nation's most valuable real estate at risk.  Rising water levels also threaten the area's drinking water, as salt water increasingly creeps underground, going inland through porous limestone to contaminate groundwater wells.

Florida Senator Holds Miami Beach Hearing on Rising Sea Level

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