Seas Are Rising at Fastest Rate in Last 28 Centuries

kayak in street
Photo by Lynne Sladky

The worsening of tidal flooding in American coastal communities is largely a consequence of greenhouse gases from human activity, and the problem will grow far worse in coming decades, scientists reported Monday.

Those emissions, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, are causing the ocean to rise at the fastest rate since at least the founding of ancient Rome, the scientists said. They added that in the absence of human emissions, the ocean surface would be rising less rapidly and might even be falling.

The increasingly routine tidal flooding is making life miserable in places like Miami Beach; Charleston, S.C.; and Norfolk, Va., even on sunny days.

Though these types of floods often produce only a foot or two of standing saltwater, they are straining life in many towns by killing lawns and trees, blocking neighborhood streets and clogging storm drains, polluting supplies of freshwater and sometimes stranding entire island communities for hours by overtopping the roads that tie them to the mainland. More information >>

Attribution of Extreme Weather Events in the Context of Climate Change

NAS drought cropA report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concludes it is now possible to estimate the influence of climate change on some types of extreme events. The science of extreme event attribution has advanced rapidly in recent years, giving new insight to the ways that human-caused climate change can influence the magnitude or frequency of some extreme weather events. This report examines the current state of science of extreme weather attribution, and identifies ways to move the science forward to improve attribution capabilities.

Confidence is strongest in attributing types of extreme events that are influenced by climate change through a well-understood physical mechanism, such as, the more frequent heat waves that are closely connected to human-caused global temperature increases, the report finds. Confidence is lower for other types of events, such as hurricanes, whose relationship to climate change is more complex and less understood at present. For any extreme event, the results of attribution studies hinge on how questions about the event’s causes are posed, and on the data, modeling approaches, and statistical tools chosen for the analysis. More information >>

FIU pledges action during White House climate event

wh1FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg and student Salome Garcia joined United States Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy in Washington D.C. on to call for action on climate change.

More than 200 universities representing 3.3 million students throughout the United States, including FIU, have signed the American Campuses Act on Climate pledge. The White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of State are assembling leaders from higher education to discuss how college campuses can address climate change, launching the American Campuses Act on Climate day-of-action.  FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society and Sea Level Solutions Center hosted watch parties to live-stream the event.

The White House summit comes a little more than a week before the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) convenes in Paris, a United Nations meeting of all countries that want to take action on climate change. COP21 begins Nov. 30 and runs through Dec. 11, 2015. More Information >>


Melting skepticism instead of ice caps

Melt Skeptics pic
Photo by Andrea Della Andriano, 2007

“Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” – Environmentalist (and Grateful Dead leader) Jerry Garcia

Climate change, though measured with hard science, has become so ideologically divisive that environmental advocates often find themselves against a wall. How can progress be made if skeptics won’t even listen? The solution, it turns out, might be as simple as re-framing the conversation. FIU’s Juliet Pinto and Xavier Cortada both served as panelists during the 2015 National Conference of Independent Sector in Miami. Hear more from experts who are using fresh communications tactics to discuss the future of the planet – and, in doing so, building consensus with unlikely new allies: More info >>

SLSC discusses sea level rise at 2015 NAML Biennial

2015 NAML Meeting, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, FL(1)

The National Association of Marine Laboratories (NAML) held its 2015 Biennial meeting at Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch, in Ft. Pierce, Florida. The event included a Mini-Symposium on Sea Level Rise, which discussed the issue of communicating sea level rise to the public, as well as to local and regional governments, and how to move forward with solutions-oriented action. Among the featured presenters, Sea Level Solutions Center Director Tiffany Troxler discussed the work of the newly-launched Center and its commitment to addressing the threats of sea level rise and saltwater intrusion, focusing on South Florida’s urban water supply and the Everglades.

Universities join forces to tackle urban water crises

Copyright 2011, André Lui Bernardo
Copyright 2011, André Lui Bernardo

With drought conditions putting a strain on resources throughout South Florida, FIU is investigating long-term solutions to water crises as part of a newly launched consortium.

The Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN) is comprised of 14 academic institutions and key partners across the United States, and focuses on addressing the challenges that threaten urban water systems throughout the nation and around the world. Researchers hope to create technological, institutional, and management solutions that will help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises.

“It’s exciting that of the three Urban Sustainability Research Networks established this year, FIU will serve as a critical node for two,” said Evelyn Gaiser, executive director of FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society. “These grants are particularly timely as FIU is preparing to launch the Sea Level Solutions Center, which will serve as an outlet for much of the research, education and outreach involved in these and likely spin-off programs.” More information >>

FIU sea level rise experts visit White House

SLSC-experts-visit-whitehouseThe Cherry Blossoms were in full bloom this week in Washington, D.C. as FIU’s researchers briefed the White House and Congress on the emerging threat of Sea Level Rise and administration alumni welcomed Miami-Dade Commission Chairman Jean Monestime to the city.

In advance of President Barack Obama’s visit to the Everglades this week, FIU’s leading environmental researchers met with White House officials to advocate for greater interagency coordination with South Florida research and adaptation partners on the emerging threat of rising tides.

Todd Crowl, FIU’s Southeast Environmental Research Center (SERC) director, and Evelyn Gaiser, School of Environment, Arts and Society (SEAS) interim executive director, were joined by Henry Artigues of the Division of Research as they met with Presidential advisers, including from the Council on Environmental Quality and Office of Science Technology Policy. More information >>

Sea level rise, Caribbean energy security and Presidential budget

FIU Sea level dcAs President Obama prepared to release his FY16 Presidential budget request to Congress, FIU researchers were on global and environmental stages in an action-packed week that included the White House’s Caribbean Energy Security Summit and Energy and Climate Change Symposium. Members of the FIU faculty – Tiffany Troxler, research scientist; Evelyn Gaiser, interim executive director of the School of Environment, Arts and Society; Maria Donoso, director of the Global Water for Sustainability (GLOWS) program; and Richard Olson, director of the Extreme Events Institute – showcased their research, presenting on the challenges, opportunities and new strategies for the Water-Energy-Climate Nexus. More information >>

Professors win national journalism education grant to continue studies on sea level rise

Sea-level-riseProfessors Robert E. Gutsche, Jr., Susan Jacobson, Kate MacMillin and Juliet Pinto from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication(SJMC) were recently awarded a 2014-15 Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education grant to conduct community-engaged journalism about the threats of sea level rise in South Florida.

Their proposal focused on using public data feeds, public media, “crowd hydrology,” and student-led journalism to conduct a public campaign that informs and engages South Florida residents on the impacts of sea level rise on their neighborhoods. The team, one of 12 selected from 125, received a $35,000 grant to seed their project. More information >>