It’s a topic of great concern for many in Miami; sea level rise. Is it happening slowly or is it happening much faster than most believe? According to Captain Daniel Kipnis, it’s not happening slowly. It’s happening exponentially.
In a recent release from the Florida Center for Environmental Studies, sea rise in South Florida is growing at a rate of 3.1 mm per year. ‘Not true,’ says Captain Kipnis. ‘It’s more like 3.6 mm per year and it’s getting higher month by month.’
The Capt. also explained there were other factors which affect us all here in South Florida, such as the largest Calving iceberg ever witnessed breaking off of Greenland this last December – the size of Manhattan Island by the way. Once it makes it way to the North Atlantic and begins to melt, sea rise could go up as much as 1½ feet per year.
And then there are water surges due to storms and hurricanes. And anyone who lives in Miami Beach can tell you, five minutes of heavy rain is all it takes to flood major avenues and streets – and the pumping stations are woefully inadequate. Add those factors to increasing sea rise and the future is not dry. It’s under water permanently. But when will it happen? That’s the question.
Some estimates say South Florida has at least until 2050 until we need to be concerned. Capt. Kipnis believes we've maybe 20 years before it becomes problematic – that’s 17 years sooner. Calculating exponential sea-rise is difficult due to unforeseen factors, such as ice-melt, temperature fluxuation, a shift in the jet-steam and all out hurricanes but suffice to say the water is coming much sooner than you might think.
Yeah, tell that to the ones who've over $50 billion in residential and business assets & $3.2 trillion in infrastructure within Miami-Dade alone – not to mention Turkey Point which has two 40 yr. old nuclear reactors at sea level.
- In the US, 4.9 million people live below an elevation of 4 feet, 2.4 million of which are in Florida;
- There are 107 towns and cities in Florida in which over half of the residents live below 4 feet in elevation (Strauss, 2012):
- The limestone geology causes a rapid interaction between rising sea water along the coast, potentially impacting municipal well fields.
According to Capt. Kipnis, there really is no way to armor ourselves against this impending disaster. Miami Beach – in particular – is built on Limestone toped with about six feet of sand. Limestone and sand are porous, so there really is no way to build a sea wall. And frankly, I don’t see how we would float the city. What we’ve got here folks, is a Castle-in-the-sand.
Toward the end of our conversation, I asked Capt. Kipnis what he thought it would cost Miami Dade County. His answer, ‘Everything, the whole deal, we’re going to be gone. And if we don’t start preparing for it now it’s really going to be painful.’ I asked ‘Are you talking about migration?’ ‘Yes,’ retorted the Capt. ‘Here’s what we need to do.’
- We as citizens pay our insurance companies so that if our house gets blown down or destroyed, we can rebuild it. Instead of doing that – like they do in Malibu, CA – we pay into a moving fund so that when that happens we’ve enough money to move to higher ground. No rebuilding; just relocating. We have to leave, but at least there’s money to do that instead of loosing everything. In order to do this, laws would have to be changed; no small deal.
As you can see from the slide-show – courtesy of Capt. Kipnis – the water levels clearly indicate what will happen from sea rise once the water rises by a simple 2 ½ feet – as the average land-mass water-table is only six inches; fresh water encroachment, beaches underwater, roads flooded permanently; pretty much no more Miami Beach – and sea level rise will continue until most of South Florida becomes a page in history – but not until after Turkey Point goes under.
This may be a difficult scenario to accept, Miami. But it is what is going to happen.
But as I said before, this is not an ‘if’ scenario, it’s a ‘when’.
If you’d like to contact Captain Dan Kipnis for more information, his website is here. Stay dry guys and gals.