According to the US National Climate Assessment released by the White House Tuesday, South Florida is facing some major risks from sea level rises, increasing temperatures and decreased water availability.

“Sea level rise presents major challenges to South Florida’s existing coastal water management system due to a combination of increasingly urbanized areas, aging flood control facilities, flat topography, and porous limestone aquifers,” the assessment stated.

florida coast sea level rise

South Florida will face serious challenges if sea levels rise, according to a new report.
Image: Shutterstock

For instance, South Florida’s freshwater well field protection areas lie close to the current interface between saltwater and freshwater, which will shift inland with rising sea level, affecting water managers’ ability to draw drinking water from current resources.”

The 1,300-page document released early last week incorporates not only predictions from various climate models, but also observations from around the country. It is an attempt to incorporate sometimes rapidly changing research into a larger social, economic and political context. It is intended to help the federal government establish priorities for dealing with the effects of climate change, spend its money more wisely and provide guidelines for local governments.

The US National Climate Assessment is the first federal assessment since 2009 and comes at a time when climate change, particularly in South Florida, increasingly garners national attention.

“We already have water in the streets in places like Key West and on Bayshore Drive,” said Harold Wanless, a University of Miami geology professor who has long studied climate change. “We’ve created an immense problem.”

The findings, from the U.S. National Climate Assessment, were the result of a three-year project involving more than 300 experts and top administration officials, including President Barack Obama’s science and technology adviser. The report was called for in Obama’s climate action plan, launched last year.