Q&A – South Florida’s Sea Level Rise

Today’s entry - Hey Brian, is there an official/not politicized measurement of sea level to look at year to year? I feel like the king tide natural/seasonal occurrence that causes flooding in the coastal areas is used to manipulate fear of sea-level rise. Real #'s DONT LIE.

Bottom Line: There is an official measurement of sea levels around the world. It’s called Tides and Currents and the info is aggregated and made available by NOAA. It uses gauges at fixed local points across the world and has measured data going back around 100 years in some instances. Generally speaking, it’s probably the most pragmatic view of what’s happening with sea levels around the world at any given time. 

Sea levels have been rising in more locations around the world. However, there’s not a static trend and in fact, there are numerous locations around the world, including in the United States where sea levels have been declining. First, let’s take a look at South Florida. There are two observation gauges in South Eastern Florida. The Miami Beach one has not been active since 1981 and the one currently at Lake Worth Beach. They both show general rising levels over time. 

At Lake Worth Beach measurements have been occurring since 1970 and show an average increase of 3.5 millimeters per year. That means that over the past 48 years sea levels at Lake Worth Beach are just over a half-foot higher than they were. Miami, however, was measured for fifty years, from 1931 through 1981. The gauge showed that sea levels rose by just under four-tenths of a foot during that fifty-year window. 

So, to the question of sea-level rise in South Florida, yes, it’s happened to some extent and the current trend does seem to still be heading in that direction. That’s not the case everywhere as I mentioned. There are locations around the world that have been experiencing prolonged sea level decrease. In North America, that includes points in Canada on both coasts and to the north. In fact, one location measured on the Hudson Bay has seen sea levels decrease by 2.3 feet in 76 years! I’m sure you’ve never heard about that phenomenon. In the United States, there are numerous locations on the west coast experiencing sea level decreases including points in California, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska. Those are often omitted from the news as well. 

Perhaps the most interesting observation point is/was a destination in Antarctica which showed 32 years of sea level decrease. That’s odd given the narrative that it’s at the poles that we’re seeing the catalyst for sea-level rise. The answer as to if seas levels are rising depends on where you live. 

Submit your questions by using one of these methods. 

Email: brianmudd@iheartmedia.com

Twitter: @brianmuddradio

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Photo by: Getty Images North America

 

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