Why is the Miami rising sea waters a problem?

Miami: The city of unlimited fun

There are many fun-loving cities across America, and then there is Miami. Voted as the best city in entertainment multiple times, Miami is the liveliest city in the world. A walk along the beautiful Miami beaches, blue sea waters or the streets of downtown Miami is enough to reveal that the people from all over the world call Miami home. For a city where topless sunbathing is legal, the entertainment industry is in a class of its own.

Rising sea water levels

Research concept with businessman in boat in the middle of the sea and lightly cloudy skies.

As you walk along the Miami coast, you will notice a problem that is gradually growing by the day. Due to global warming, the rising water levels have been increasing steadily over the past few years. According to weather experts, at least six million people in Florida are potentially at risk of being affected by rising seas. Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have been making projections based on data from their extensive research. The researchers found out that the previous reports on the situation may have underestimated the number of people at risk. The urban areas in Florida have been growing faster than projected, thus putting more people in the line of danger.

The problem of rising seas is a result of the climate change happening in the world. The erratic weather has led to increasing temperatures that are slowly melting massive glaciers located in the farthest corners of the world. The breaking up of glaciers has the effect of softening large ice sheets leading to a rise in sea levels. According to estimates by various bodies that include NASA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the sea levels could rise by a minimum of 8 inches to a maximum of 6 feet by the year 2100.



As it stands right now, any minimal rise in sea levels will have a devastating impact on Miami. In comparison to other areas in Florida, Miami Beach has one of the lowest elevations. Keeping in mind that Florida has the second lowest height countrywide, it is evident why Miami is in danger of flooding. Another area of concern is that the city sits on a limestone foundation that is porous. Ocean water sometimes makes its way to the surface leading to flooding on the streets. The recent phenomenon of the flood without any rain having fallen is now known as sunny-day flooding. The area around Alton Road and the adjacent neighborhoods are sometimes awash with water that comes from underneath the surface.

Miami Florida at sunset, cityscape of modern downtown buildings illuminated with reflections in the waters of Biscayne BAy

There has been an increasingly alarming frequency of floods occasioned by rain. Every time it rains in Miami Beach, some roads always end up flooded. Some parts of the city such as Purdy Avenue are likely to be covered in water even after a moderate amount of rainfall. One of the hardest things that humans can attempt is to defeat nature.  Miami’s Bayside used to be a mangrove swamp before it got discovered and developed. Some sections of the area have an elevation of just two feet above the sea level. It is for this reason that the city has become notorious for regular flooding. When it rains, many of the smaller roads connecting the neighborhoods become impassable as a result of flooding.

During the high tide season that occurs in March and October, the rising seawater makes its way to the city through the underground drainage systems. It is ironical that the elaborate drains and gutters meant to channel the water away from the city end up bringing the seawater back. Authorities in Miami have a lot to think about with water coming from all directions. The threat of flooding can come from the sky above, the surrounding sea or the underground water that keeps seeping to the surface. The blockage of sewer systems is a concern to the residents and the city’s health officials.

Initiatives being implemented to tackle the water threats

Ultimately, the threat of rising sea levels needs to stop with from an international perspective. Countries ought to come together and make substantial carbon cuts to reduce global warming. The second option is for individual nations to use more renewable sources of energy to reduce the rapid burning of fossil fuels. These are important matters that involve not just America but significant powers of the world. Countries such as China, which have numerous industries, must take a more active role in the process.

While the US government does its part on the global stage, local leaders also need to do theirs. When Philip Levine was elected the mayor of Miami, he took emergency measures to tackle the perennial flooding. The mayor pushed forward a plan to install powerful water pumps in areas prone to flooding. The electric flutter was placed on the city’s west side and along Alton Road that was notorious for regular flooding. Since the operation commenced, the results have been pleasing. The targeted areas have not encountered flooding even during the high tide season. The powerful pumps have been sucking the water and pumping it into the Biscayne Bay. However, there has been a lot of concern about the cost of the project. When the program is complete, it is expected to cost up to $400 million. The figure is enormous by any standards since it is almost the size of the city’s annual budget.

One of the most interesting facts about the whole matter is that it does not seem to have dampened the spirits of investors and the residents alike. At the moment, Miami is undergoing a massive construction boom that is transforming the skyline. New hotels are coming up, and business is booming. For a city with such a bleak outlook from scientists, the pace of growth and development is astonishing.

Meanwhile, various studies continue to paint a picture of a massive risk in case there is extensive flooding. At the same time, people have learned to adopt a “wait and see” attitude while they continue with their lives.

 

Sources:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/environment/article65948497.html

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/11/miami-beach-global-warming

http://phys.org/news/2015-10-sea-swallow-miami-orleans.html

http://interactive.fusion.net/pumpit/

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