Sea rise levels in Florida could force millions in the Miami area to adapt or flee their homes by 2100 – if a new climate change impact report is accurate.
The study in the science journal Nature Climate Change
said four Florida counties – Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinella, and Lee – would be hit hardest, affecting more than 521,000 people in those areas alone, according to LiveScience.com
The study attempted to account for not only people currently living in areas endangered by rising sea levels nationwide, but also for ongoing population growth.
"We find that a 2100 (sea level rise) of 0.9 meters places a land area projected to house 4.2 million people at risk of inundation, whereas 1.8 meters affects 13.1 million people —approximately three times larger than indicated by current populations," the study said.
"These results suggest that the absence of protective measures could lead to U.S. population movements of a magnitude similar to the twentieth century Great Migration of southern African-Americans. Furthermore, our population projection approach can be readily adapted to assess other hazards or to model future per capita economic impacts."
The Miami Herald
said the Nature Climate Change study could allow planners to determine where, when and what kind of fixes they need to make in advance of rising waters.
"In terms of sheer number of people living in harm's way (South Florida) is way at the top basically," Stetson University ecologist Jason Evans, a coauthor of the study, told the Herald. "It just pops out."
Evans said state and local officials in Florida should create stronger rules now on growth as a result from the sea level predictions.
"You've got to give permits to build in a vulnerable area and local governments are going to have a responsibility to protect them," Evans said. "Counties and cities need to look at their vulnerabilities and be thinking, hmm, in 30 years what kind of infrastructure am I going to be maintaining."
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