WLRN-Miami Herald News | Sea-Level Rise In South Florida

What to make of all those sea-level rise projections

 

kmalone@MiamiHerald.com

Climate scientists largely agree that sea level is rising. The extent of the change is a far more complicated matter.

“Probably two feet. Three feet, possibly,” said David Enfield, a climatologist with the University of Miami and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. “As an extreme — if, for example, we see an unexpected acceleration of the melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica, something else we’re not observing — we could be seeing six feet by the end of the century.”

Compare that to the projection by Harold Wanless: “Six to 20 feet, somewhere in that range.”

Wanless is a geologist at the University of Miami. He studies the evolution of coastal regions and believes past sea-level rise shows us that when ice sheets start to melt, they melt much faster than experts might think.

“We don’t really know enough about how ice melts: big ice sheets, like the Greenland ice sheet or parts of the Antarctic ice sheet,” Wanless said. “Every year we’re learning new things and they’re all pointing towards a much more rapid rise [in melt] than is presently being projected.”

Individual projections, even expert ones, are not typically the numbers you’ll see being cited regularly. Most of those projections come from groups of experts discussing which models are worthwhile, which published research to believe, and how to interpret the data. Even those meta-projections typically don’t agree with one another, though they generally fall within the eight-inch to six-and-a-half-foot range.

“Everybody’s brother has been trying to predict the sea-level rise,” said Jayantha Obeysekera, chief modeler for the South Florida Water Management District.

Obeysekera recently gave a presentation on that topic to the Florida Water and Climate Alliance. WLRN-Miami Herald News sat down with him afterward to ask: What should the general public make of the array of sea-level rise projections? Hear the report at wlrn.org

Read more Miami-Dade stories from the Miami Herald

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category