July 2016: another warmer month, second warmest in Florida

PHOTO- iStock 17832634-White Sands New Mexico-80516-800x450-LandscapeJuly’s reputation for sizzle didn’t disappoint, bringing record warm temperatures to Florida and New Mexico and much above-average temperatures across the South, the East Coast and Alaska.

The average July temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 75.3 degrees F, making it the 14th  warmest July on record, according to scientists from NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information. July precipitation averaged 2.87 inches (0.40 inch above average). From January through July, the average temperature for the Lower 48 states ranked as the third warmest on record at 54.3 degrees F, 3.0 degrees above average. Thirty-eight states were much warmer than average. More information >>

WLRN: How to teach climate change without terrifying your students

WLRN teaching CC at GW CarverAfter a year in Bertha Vasquez’s class at George Washington Carver Middle School, 13-year-old Penny Richards says she reads climate news while she rides the bus to school.

Richards and 20-odd seventh graders sit transfixed as Vasquez tries to tease out the difference between the greenhouse effect and global warming by tossing out absurd half-truths. “Carbon dioxide’s completely harmless,” Vasquez says. Should we ban Coca Cola because of the carbonation?

Penny’s hand shoots up. “The greenhouse effect”—which keeps our planet warm enough for life to survive—”is completely natural,” she counters. “With mining fossil fuels, you’re taking something out of the ground and putting it into the atmosphere.”

These days, big questions about energy use and ecological balance punctuate Vasquez’s classes throughout the year. Her students meet climate scientists and calculate how many desalination plants it would take to turn rising seas into a sustainable source of fresh water (too many). Read more >>

EPA’s College/Underserved Community Partnership Program at FIU

The College/Underserved Community Partnership Program (CUPP) provides a creative approach to partnering and delivering technical assistance to small, under-served communities from local colleges and universities at no cost to the communities.  By leveraging partnerships with colleges and universities, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Native American Colleges and Universities, the program combines environmental justice concerns and mission-related objectives of multiple agencies with core curriculum objectives of local colleges and universities.

Communities benefit from the investment of innovative technical assistance and approaches provided by students attending nearby academic institutions. Students benefit by utilizing their learned curriculum to gain practical experience that can serve as a resume builder, while earning course credits through their academic institution.  Federal agencies benefit from the inter-agency collaboration by seeing an improvement in the effective and efficient use of resources. More information >>

Program Examples from Florida International University

  • Students at FIU developed a storm water mitigation plan.
    FIU student and community member discussing care for tomato plants
    FIU student and community member discussing care for tomato plants

    Community vegetable gardens in Medley, FL
    Community vegetable gardens in Medley, FL
  • A communication plan was created to preserve and protect fresh water resources.
  • A food garden was designed and planted to address food desert issues; residents were also taught how to maintain it.
  • Students will be working with the city to develop a sustainable economic development plan

SFRCC webcast: Reducing Climate Risk, Creating Economic Opportunity

SFRCCC workshop
SFRCC’s 9th workshop, hosted by the FIU Sea Level Solutions Center.

The recorded webcast of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Action Plan (RCAP) Workshop #9: Reducing Climate Risk and Creating Economic Opportunity, is now available for reference and viewing on the Compact website. As part of a continuing series of workshops designed to advance implementation of the RCAP, this workshop involved city managers, budget and finance managers, risk management professionals, planners as well as those concerned with the financial risk and economic opportunities for local governments due to climate change.

Videos from the workshop, which was hosted at Florida International University in part by the Sea Level Solutions Center, are below. The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact (SFRCC) will also be releasing a Summary Report (pdf) and guidebook based on workshop discussions.

The webcast can be found here (please do share): http://www.southeastfloridaclimatecompact.org/events/event/reducing-climate-risk-and-creating-economic-opportunity/

The next RCAP workshop (#10): Essential Tools: Integrating the Southeast Florida Sea Level Rise Projections Into Community Planning, will be held July 14.  Registration for this free workshop is now open and filling quickly.

WLRN: UM Climatologist warns there’s “no quick fix” for sea level rise in South Florida

Photo by WLRN’s Laura Coburn

Dr. Harold Wanless researches climate change as chair of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami in Coral Gables. He documents coastal erosion caused by hurricane damage – and the impact of sea level rise.

Wanless calls South Florida the poster child for climate change.

“Only 8 percent of Miami Dade County is greater than 10 feet above sea level. When you think about heavy rains and hurricane storm surges, that sort of focuses how vulnerable we are,” Wanless says. “Hurricane Andrew was an amazingly tight storm and it had like a 17 foot storm surge.” See more here >>

President Rosenberg cites sea level rise as a top-priority issue at MDC Board of County Commissioners meeting

mark-rosenberg-fiuAt a recent Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners meeting, FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg publicly addressed the issue sea level rise in the context of economic opportunity and development. In his speech he pointed to sea level rise as a top-priority issue, citing a projected loss of 1% of South Florida’s land mass to sea level rise by the year 2030, and up to 30% loss occurring during high tides that would be worsened by rising seas. Rosenberg went on to state that the effects of sea level rise would adversely impact the region’s insurance, finance, and transportation sectors, naming FIU as a “Solutions Center” for building community resilience and sustainability. View the full speech here >>


Submerging the Sunshine: Explore Sea Level Rise in South Florida

Submerging the SunshineThe FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communication (SJMC) is proud to present work done by undergraduate students in a recent Spring Visual Storytelling course that contributed to FIU’s Digital Commons, by curating research, storytelling, art, and communication related to work on sea level rise conducted by FIU faculty, students, and staff. Their project is titled, “Submerging the Sunshine: Explore Sea Level Rise in South Florida” and categorizes stories of rising seas into four main narratives that highlight FIU’s work on this pressing issue.

Some of the media captured, digitized, and archived for this project includes what’s been published on eyesontherise.org and work conducted in other units at FIU. Students in this course were introduced to cultural themes of visual communication, museums, and libraries. Through practical application and collaboration, they created digital narratives, using the content that is already in – and that was added to – the collections to make the archives approachable and sharable for and to wider audiences.

But they are not done, and THEY NEED YOU:

As you can see, there are several units represented, but a lot may be missing. Please help to promote this project for its potential for interdisciplinary curricular integration, and feel free to contribute work to this collection, which can be easy as emailing a PDF, URL, or other file (even if some things aren’t captured, they can help with that, too)! Contact Jamie Rogers (rogersj@fiu.edu) or Dr. Robert Gutsche Jr. (rgutsche@fiu.edu) for more information, or to add the work of your units or recommend others.

Grant Opportunity for Environment and Sustainability

The City of Miami Beach has $60,000 in funding available for projects within the City that promote environmental and/ or marine resource protection and/or youth environmental stewardship. They are seeking community-based organizations with the capacity and experience to undertake such projects that encourage:

  • Restoration and Enhancement of the natural environmentMB Environment & Sustainability Grant photo
  • Sustainable practices, urban forestry, water quality, wildlife awareness and healthy ecosystems
  • Voluntarism and youth involvement that serve to expand community awareness
  • Partnerships among community groups and stakeholders to leverage experience and resources
  • Long-term, measurable results

Deadline for submission is Friday, July 1, 2016.

Download the grant application here: Environment and Sustainability Grant 2016

For questions, please email Yanira Pineda: ypineda@miamibeachfl.gov


NPR: Rising Seas Push Too Much Salt Into The Florida Everglades

Photo taken by Pietro Valocchi at the Shark Valley Visitors Center

The Florida Everglades is a swampy wilderness the size of Delaware. In some places along the road in southern Florida, it looks like tall saw grass to the horizon, a prairie punctuated with a few twisted cypress trees. The sky is the palest blue. But beneath the surface a different story is unfolding. Because of climate change and sea level rise, the ocean is starting to seep into the swampland. If the invasion grows worse, it could drastically change the Everglades, and a way of life for millions of residents in South Florida.

An experiment is going on here to help scientists understand more about what’s likely to happen as the ocean invades. “We’re making, basically, artificial seawater here,” a guy wearing a mosquito net over his face tells me, as he stirs water in a vat the size of a hot tub. The guy in the mosquito net is Joe Stachelek — a collaborator with Tiffany Troxler, from Florida International University. They’re making salt water and pumping it out into the wetland — dosing the plants and soil with their briny mix as a preview of what the ocean could do.

“As sea level rises,” Troxler explains, “the saltwater wedge moves inland.” And it infiltrates the bedrock. Read more >>


SLSC and community representatives meet to face the challenges of sea level rise in Miami

fiu-graham-centerFlorida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center (SLSC) recently hosted an event with the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund, Defend Our Future and Voto Latino to discuss the challenges of climate change and sea level rise in our local communities. Featured speakers included Congressman Carlos Curbelo, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez, and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa. As “ground zero” for sea level rise, Miami and the surrounding region have not only been focused on how sea level rise will impact its communities, but more importantly, what can be done about it and what is being done to ensure a sustainable and prosperous Miami in the 22nd century. As a “Solutions Center” at FIU, the SLSC is committed to developing tangible and meaningful solutions to this global issue through interdisciplinary collaboration and science-based adaptation and mitigations strategies.