Dr. Susan Jacobson, Associate Professor in the School of Communication + Journalism’s Department of Journalism + Media, has been selected as an inductee to the CLEO Leadership Circle. CLEO (Climate Leadership Engagement Opportunities) is one of the largest climate engagement organizations in South Florida, reaching more than 40,000 citizens with their initiatives. Dr. Jacobson was selected for this honor based on her work as the Project Lead of the Eyes on the Rise Sea Level Toolbox app. The app lets residents enter their address into a Google Map and, with a visualization developed by FIU’s GIS Center, allows them to see the potential impact of sea level rise on their neighborhoods.
Dr. Jacobson developed a crowdsourcing tool for the app, which lets citizens document sunny day flooding during the King Tides in South Florida. In collaboration with the Sea Level Solutions Center, she has been involved in organizing citizen scientists to visit low-lying areas at the time of the King Tides, take photos and videos of flooding, measure water depth and measure water salinity.
More than 60 FIU students and citizens gathered at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens on October 16 to receive training on how to document floods during Sea Level Solutions Day, and worked in groups to document flooding around Miami. You can see a map of some of their work here.
On Sunday, October 16th, the Sea Level Solutions Center teamed up with FIU’s Office of University Sustainability and School of Communication & Journalism, as well as the CLEO Institute and Miami-Dade’s Office of Resilience to collect data on the recent king tides that have been amplified by sea level rise. Teams of volunteers included students, teachers, local officials and concerned citizens, who came out to learn more about the link between sea level rise and higher flood levels, and to get involved with local efforts to spread awareness of hazardous community flooding. Participants were given “citizen science kits” which allowed them to measure flood depths and salinity at various low-lying sites, in order to tie sunny day flooding to sea level rise by showing that seawater from the Bay is partially overwhelming local storm water drains. The data were recorded, submitted, and displayed via the Eyes on the Rise app, which allows citizens to not only view flood projections in their local areas, but also input valuable data on flooding as it occurs on events like these. King tides represent the highest tides of the year — occurring in the spring and fall — and these seasonal high tides are only expected to be exacerbated by rising sea levels. More information can be found here >>
Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainable Research Network (UREx SRN): The Miami team has been meeting with city practitioners, beginning in April 2016 to review research co-production processes. Four key vulnerabilities correlated to city-defined extreme weather events are: poorly functioning or loss of infrastructure; risks to critical sources of local income; risks to insurance and financing of residential and commercial properties; and, the degradation of natural resources.
The research and co-production teams will consider sustainability and resiliency plans that include transportation and stormwater master plans, utility and roadway upgrades, land development regulation amendments, dune and beachfront management, green infrastructure, water quality, urban reforestation, and creation of a sustainability and resiliency fund. The Miami team is collaborating with Chambers of Commerce and Hotel Association, and following closely work of the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Sea Level Rise, in addition to inviting conversations with local industry. We will continue to pursue independent community engagement grant opportunities to support city-wide initiatives.
The Sea Level Solutions Center at FIU was launched in Summer of 2015 to foster creative solutions to the complex issues of climate change through collaborative research, education, public outreach and engagement. Key partners in all of these activities include researchers from other universities, the Florida Climate Institute, scientists, practitioners, business and community leaders and the general public. More information >>
The MetroLab Network is pleased to announce that Miami – including Miami-Dade County and the Cities of Miami and Miami Beach – has officially joined the network, along with the City of Los Angeles and the City of San Francisco. The University of Pittsburgh has also joined the existing partnership between the City of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University. The network now includes 40 partnerships between local governments and their university partners, focused on incorporating data, analytics, and innovation into local government programs. Members of the network research, develop, and deploy technologies and policy approaches to address challenges facing the nation’s urban areas. MetroLab Network was launched by 21 founding city-university pairings in September 2015 at the White House as part of the Obama Administration’s Smart Cities Initiative.
MetroLab Network’s city-university partnerships are relationships in which the university serves as a research and development arm, and the city serves as a test-bed for technologies and policies. Faculty members and students gain access to real-world laboratories to develop and test tools and programs that utilize information technology, data analytics, sensing, and more. Cities benefit from their technical expertise, leading to solutions that reduce the cost of infrastructure and services, make cities more sustainable and resilient, and improve citizens’ quality of life. Current members are working on more than 100 “research, development, and deployment” projects aimed at addressing challenges facing urban areas. The MetroLab Network connects these city-university partnerships via a national, collaborative platform that will facilitate the sharing of information and the scaling of technology and solutions across the country. More information >>
This Fall, FIU will have a new student organization that focuses on the science, politics and dissemination of climate change research related to greenhouse gas emissions and ocean acidification. The Student Workshops on Acidification and Greenhouse Gases (SWAGG) is catered to both undergraduate and graduate students, and creates a platform for cross-disciplinary discussions and understanding of climate change. Meetings will feature discussions with guest scientists, conservationists and policy-makers, as well as field trips to areas where the impacts of climate change can be discussed within the context of water chemistry, carbon and greenhouse gases. More information >>
July’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 >>
After 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 >>
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.
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
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 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.
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.
“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 >>