A unified projection by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact shows a three to seven inch increase in sea level in our region in the near term, and up to 24-inch rise by mid-century. This is a conservative estimate compared to some. In addition:
- Since 1870, average global sea level has risen by about eight inches.
- The annual rate of sea level rise has accelerated and is projected to continue to accelerate at least until and beyond the year 2100
- The 50-year projection for our area is that sea levels could rise an additional nine inches to two feet
- Most Fort Lauderdale residents live less than five feet above sea level, so we are talking about dipping into the “buffer” in increments 20 to 40 percent in the long term.
- In the shorter term of the next two to three decades, we may have a three to seven inch sea level rise.
- 80 percent of land affected by one foot of sea level rise is in conservation areas, such as coastal wetlands not under private ownership.
- Changes to the shape and stability of barrier islands, beaches, inlets, bays, estuaries, tidal rivers, and coastal forests can be expected
The area affected by sea level rise extends from the ocean inland to the Everglades and westward. The aggregate taxable property values that will be affected by sea level rise in the next 50 years are in multiples of billions of dollars. Included in the area of most extreme rise, is almost 900 miles of roadway from Miami-Dade through Broward and on to Palm Beach—most everywhere we drive on a daily basis. In terms of infrastructure, every aspect that is underground or touches the ground will need to be assessed for its vulnerability and, if necessary, protected. This includes basic services, such as provision of drinking water, sewage treatment, electricity and waste disposal.