Florida vs. Sea Level Rise

By: Delaney Reynolds

“More than any other state in the U.S., Florida faces the risk of significant losses of private property as climate change continues to drive sea level rise.”

 Risky Business Project / Come Heat and High Water, July 28, 2015

A warming planet impacts all sorts of things from rising temperatures, people’s health, food sources and our energy needs, to placing people and property at risk of death and destruction. According to the Bureau of the Census 2012’s statistics, Florida is now America’s third largest state with nearly 20,000,000 residents, and the largest state in the Southeast segment of our country and according to ‘Visit Florida’, Florida has over 8,400 miles of beaches. A new report from the Risky Business Project, a non-partisan group that focuses on the economics of climate change, provides some alarming estimates for the future of the Sunshine State, including:

  • Over the past 30 years Florida has experienced an average of seven (7) daysper year with temperatures above 95 degrees.
  • Scientists predict that somewhere between the years 2020 and 2039, thus in five to 24 years, Florida will experience as many as 32 daysa year with temperatures above 95 degrees.
  • Scientists also predict that by mid-century Florida will experience as many as 76 days a year with temperatures above 95 degrees, thus nearly 11 times more extreme hot weather days than is the case at this time.


 “Much of Florida’s critical infrastructure—including roads, railways, ports, airports, and oil and gas facilities—sits at low elevations, and large portions of Miami are built on porous limestone that allows seawater to inundate inland areas even in the presence of physical barriers. 

At Miami, mean sea level will likely rise 0.8 to 1.3 feet by 2050 and 2.0 to 3.6 feet by 2100.”

 “Florida faces more risk than any other state that private, insurable property could be inundated by high tide, storm surge and sea level rise.”

 Risky Business Project / Come Heat and High Water, July 28, 2015

florida 2

Rising sea levels are predicted to have a significant impact on property and infrastructure and the new report vividly illustrates this growing exposure and just how soon the risk will grow. Consider these projections;

  • By 2030, in just 15 years, it is estimated that $ 69 Billion in coastal property (buildings, homes, high rises, roads and other infrastructure) will be at risk from rising seas at high tidethat is not at risk today. At mean sea level these same losses are predicted to be at least $ 15 Billion.  By 2050, in just 35 years, it is estimated that these values at risk by being below high tide levels will grow to $ 152 Billion. At mean sea level these same losses are predicted to be at least $ 23 Billion.
  • In addition to high tide exposures, storm surge from a tropical storm or hurricane will further place Florida property at risk. In fact, based on estimates of future population, historic storm activity and construction growth storm related losses are predicted to rise by $ 1.3 Billion per year by 2030 and by $ 4 Billion per year by 2050. Based on these estimates Florida exposure to property damage from storm surge alone could be as much as $ 17 Billion (or higher) by mid-century. These estimates, however, do not take into account that a warming planet could produce more and larger storms as some scientist have predicted might happen.

A warming planet and the impact this is having on sea levels is growing by the day. The sooner we pay attention to the scientific expert’s concerns the sooner we can begin to create serious solutions to help diminish the future impact of sea level rise.



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