Monday, June 29, 2009

Florida Keys ill-prepared for rising sea

Cammy Clark in the Miami Herald: …''South Florida is on the front line against sea-level rise in the United States, and the Florida Keys are ground zero,'' said Evan Flugman, who co-authored a Florida International University report on the importance of Monroe County tackling the issue now.

By 2100, under the best-case predictions of a seven-inch sea-level rise by an international climate panel, the Keys would lose about 59,000 acres of real estate worth $11 billion, according to the nonprofit Nature Conservancy.

Under the panel's worst-case projection of ocean waters rising 23.2 inches, about 75 percent of the Keys 154,000 acres and nearly 50 percent of its $43 billion property value could become submerged. Consequences also include the loss of habitat for many endangered plants and species, including Key deer. And the panel's predictions are conservative in comparison to some scientists' calculations.

The eye-opening projections were presented at a June meeting in Marathon to urge Monroe County Mayor George Neugent, other Keys leaders and residents to develop long-term plans to deal with climate change. Unlike Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the Keys do not have a climate change task force.

…During the presentation, Patrick Gleason, a geologist and member of the Broward County Climate Change Committee, noted that South Florida is among the world's more vulnerable areas, due to low elevation and a porous limestone base.

A Nature Conservancy study mapped out the potential ecological and economic consequences of rising seas for the Keys, particularly Big Pine Key. Yet the FIU study concluded that little has been done to plan for climate change in the Keys...Experts at the Keys meeting said any plan to address rising seas should include mitigation to help reduce greenhouse gases that are accelerating sea-level rise and adaptation to cope with the consequences…

Satellite view of the Florida Keys, NASA

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