Florida Matters: Sea Level Rise
What will Florida look like in the next several decades if sea levels continue to rise? Its coastlines would be radically redrawn - with many of our barrier islands under water. That's the opinion of two scientists who were lead authors in several chapters of a report on climate change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.
The pair spoke last week at New College in Sarasota and Eckerd College in St. Petersburg.
We'll hear first from Henry Pollack, Professor Emeritus of Geophysics at the University of Michigan. He's conducted scientific research on all seven continents. Then, we'll hear from Pier Vallinga, a professor in climate change and flood risk at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.
During his speech at Eckerd College, Professor Pollack showed the audience maps how much of the Tampa Bay area would be inundated with a three-foot rise in sea level. That's one of the projections scientists estimate will happen by the end of this century. One illustration of a 25-foot rise - which historic data says could eventually happen - shows Pinellas County chopped into two islands, centered west of downtown St. Petersburg, and coastal Clearwater.
Their visit to the Tampa Bay area is part of the Rising Seas project, a Southwest Florida-based initiative dedicated to advancing public understanding about the science of sea level rise, vulnerabilities of our natural and built environments, and potential strategies to mitigate or adapt to the risks.