Coral Gables Sea Level Rise LIDAR Map
Southeast Florida is widely considered one of the more vulnerable areas in the United States to the impacts of sea level rise due to our topography, extensive coastline, and porous limestone bedrock. The region relies heavily on our coastlines for tourism, recreation, development, and protection from hurricanes. The City of Coral Gables recognizes this vulnerability, especially with over 47 miles of coastline and waterways, and is developing short and long-term strategies, that are outlined below, to improve the City’s resilience.
Analyzing the Legal Considerations Surrounding Adaptation to the Threat of Sea Level Rise
||Mindful of the growing threat posed by sea level rise and the many legal complications that will accompany it, Coral Gables commissioned the drafting of a white paper that lays out a comprehensive overview of various sea level rise adaptation policy options at the City's disposal and details key legal considerations and implications surrounding those various adaptation options, including, for example: financing options available under Florida law, various regulatory and market-based tools available (and municipal liability risks associated with each), the need for updating local governments' comprehensive plans, and even factors to consider in long-term retreat planning. This white paper aligns with the Regional Climate Action plan’s categories of public outreach, sustainable communities and transportation planning, risk reduction and emergency management, and public policy.
What is Sea Level Rise?
As the temperature of the earth changes, so does sea level. Temperature and sea level are linked for two main reasons:
- Changes in the volume of water and ice on land (namely glaciers and ice sheets) can increase or decrease the volume of water in the ocean
- As water warms, it expands slightly—an effect that is cumulative over the entire depth of the oceans.
What are Its Effects?
Changing sea levels can affect human activities in coastal areas by
- Inundating low-lying wetlands and dry land
- Eroding shorelines
- Contributing to coastal flooding
- Increasing the flow of salt water into estuaries and nearby groundwater aquifers
- Making coastal infrastructure more vulnerable to damage from storms.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency
Global sea level has risen about 8 inches since 1880, and the rate of rise is accelerating. Rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. One analysis finds the odds of “century” or worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more, over widespread areas of the U.S. Across the country, nearly 5 million people live in 2.6 million homes at less than 4 feet above high tide — a level lower than the century flood line for most locations analyzed.
Actions the City of Coral Gables is Taking to Minimize the Effects of Sea Level Rise
- Sustainability Master Plan
- Currently the City is in the process of finalizing a Sustainability Master Plan that includes proposed projects for city operations and an analysis of the overall community. The City will use to guide its efforts over the next 10 years to make Coral Gables a more sustainable and resilient community.
- Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact
- On August 25, 2015 the City signed on as an official partner of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact that includes 26 other local municipalities from Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties. The goal is of the compact is to coordinate mitigation and adaptation activities across county lines. The Compact represents a new form of regional climate governance designed to allow local governments to set the agenda for adaptation while providing an efficient means for state and federal agencies to engage with technical assistance and support.
- Expanding and Maintaining our Tree Canopy
- Tree Succession Plan- adding 3,000 more trees and palms to our residential canopy.
- The City of Coral Gables has been designated as a Tree City USA for the past 30 years.
- Climate Resiliency Dialogue
- The City recently participated in a 5-week Climate Resilience Pilot project along with 4 other communities from around the country. The Climate Resilience Dialogues provided access to in-depth consultative dialogues with relevant climate and resilience experts to help support our City in our climate assessment and planning efforts. Experts provided excellent information and resources to incorporate into our sea level rise planning efforts such as which recommended forecasting models to use, locally appropriate adaptation strategies and funding mechanisms, strategies for community outreach and engagement, and information on upcoming workshops and webinars on climate adaption. The dialogues were in association with the White House Climate Action Champions. Please click here to view the final report.
- Sea Level Rise Assessment
- The Sea Level Rise assessment will collect data and identify critical city's infrastructure such as flood gates, outfalls, storm and sewer pump stations, buildings, habitats and connections to vital services and resources. The risk assessment will include king tides and storm surges and statistics and probabilities of their occurrence and be incorporated to the model SLOSH for the SLR levels. Scenarios will includes all hurricane categories analyses and results will be utilized to determine existing infrastructures impact. In addition ICPR storm water model will be created to be reflected at the existing GIS storm atlas. Finally an adaptation plan will be developed for each critical asset based on key attributes such as technical feasibility and economic impact, social and environmental factors. The adaptation scenarios will be reviewed and prioritized on the established risk and will also include the cost estimates.
- Sustainability Advisory Board
- In 2010 the City created a Sustainability Advisory Board (formerly known as the Green Task Force) whose purpose is promoting environmental sustainability for the City, as a way of living and conducting business to ensure a quality of life for the future generations.
Recap of the Coral Gables 3-Part Sea Level Rise Discussion Series
During the 3-part discussion series attendees were able to learn from experts about the potential impacts of sea level rise in the community, review potential adaptation and mitigation strategies, and discuss public policy implications of sustainable development, and much more! The discussion series was organized in partnership between Coral Gables Commissioner Patricia Keon and the Florida International University Sea Level Rise Solutions Center.
Part 1: Dr. Todd Crowl: The Basics of Sea Level Rise
Copy of Dr. Crowl's Presentation
Link to Video of Dr. Crowl's Presentation from Part 1 of the Discussion Series
Part II: Dr. Ryan Stoa: Public Policy Implications
Link to Video of Dr. Ryan Stoa Presentation from Part II of the Discussion Series
Part III: Sea Level Solutions Center Interdisciplinary Studio: Climate Responsive Design for Resilient Natural-Built Infrastructure
Additional Local Sea Level Rise Conferences and Discussions
Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce Sea Level Rise Solutions Conference
Video Links and Web Links to Sea Level Rise Prediction Models
Resources for Students/Kids
John Englander brings his broad marine science background together with his studies in geology and economics to fill in the big picture on sea level rise.