Southwest Florida’s rate of sea level rise speeding up

WMNF News: Beach dunes
Dunes on Sand Key along the Gulf of Mexico. By Seán Kinane/WMNF News, Sept. 2009

The southwest coast of Florida, especially its beaches and mangroves, are being increasingly impacted by rising seas caused by global warming; on WMNF News’ MidPoint we spoke with Mike Barry — an environmental contractor with the Institute for Regional Conservation, a non-profit based in Miami. He was recently interviewed by the Naples Herald.

It’s been known for more than a decade that the rate of sea level rise on the West Coast of Florida is increasing. For example, a study published in 1999 in the journal Ecology found that along the coast near Cedar Key (north of Tampa) the upland species cabbage palms were dying and being replaced with salt marsh species.

Florida’s west coast has a shallow-sloping limestone geology. We explored how that impacts how far inland the effects of sea level rise will be seen.

There are several ways strands of forest trees can be harmed by rising seas: erosion, flooding stress (hypoxia), salt exposure and competition from salt-marsh vegetation coming in.

Here is a link to a NOAA report on climate change and sea-level rise in Florida.

Also Monday the White House announced the American Business Act on Climate pledge. The aluminum giant Alcoa is one of the large companies that plans sustainability changes.


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