By Georgia Davis Conover
Despite predictions of rising sea levels due to climate change, nearly 75% of Florida’s 1,197-mile coastline is currently developed or slated for development in the coming years. Three other states, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut have a higher percentage of developed coastline, but Florida’s coast is roughly three times longer, meaning more people living in areas vulnerable to changes in sea level. Some predict that ocean levels could rise a full meter by 2100, a change that could put much of a coastal city like Miami underwater or force government officials to resort to high tech engineering, including dikes, levees, pumps, stilts and dredging to keep low-lying areas dry.
A recent article by Heejun Chang and Jon Franczyk suggests that coastal areas are not only vulnerable to flooding from changing sea levels but also to heavy precipitation from increasing numbers of tropical storms, which is further exacerbated by land use changes at various scales. Chang and Franczyk argue that “an integrated assessment method is needed to unravel the complex interactions” between human, terrestrial and climate systems. This suggests a multi-scalar approach to understanding climate change. It also suggests linking flood damage to socioeconomic data, an approach that could become increasingly relevant as wealthy coastal developments push out lower income residents in Florida and other coastal states.