Miami’s Vice

Guest Essay by Kip Hansen

 

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Miami Beach has a vice – a bad one – a dangerous one.

Miami’s vice is water, as in waterfront.  Everybody seems to want a house on the waterfront, a house on a canal, with a boat tied to the dock.

So what’s not to like about that?  After all, my wife and I live on our boat.

The New York Times (and the LA Times) has been running story after story about Miami flooding, Miami King Tides, Miami sea level rise threating billions of dollars of infrastructure.

Like these:

Intensified by Climate Change, ‘King Tides’ Change Ways of Life in Florida

Flooding of Coast, Caused by Global Warming, Has Already Begun

A Sharp Increase In ‘Sunny Day’ Flooding

Perils of Climate Change Could Swamp Coastal Real Estate

These news pieces offer images such as:

millionaires_house

This first image is hurricane storm surge impacting a millionaire’s beach house, built less than 10 feet above mean high tide.

chihuahua_deep

High-stepping to avoid regular flooding from high tides…street built at mean high high water (MHHW). [Note: All of these named tidal datums are defined here.]

miami_canal

Typical canal scene in Miami (city, not beach).  The mean high water line is clearly visible on the sea wall by the boat house on the right, with a safety margin of a foot or so, but no more than that.   The sea wall on the left is not quite so high.

flooded_street_ft_lauderdal

This image is actually Fort Lauderdale, but typical of Miami as well, with a flooded low lying street.

alton_and_10th

This corner, photographed hundreds of times, is Alton Road and 10th Street.  Built below the level of mean higher high water (MHHW)  in the canal a block and a half away, floods at every higher high tide, offering wonderful photo opportunities for every budding journalistic photographer wishing to illustrate how Miami is being overrun by rising seas.

alton_and_10th_map

Built below high tide?  Yes, exactly.  One would think that with the advent of modern surveying technology, adequate for the purpose as early as the 1950s, that roads in American coastal cities would be built at least above the predictable daily high tide marks.  However, Miami is an exception  [one of many, unfortunately].

photo_to_be_analyized

Another famous Miami area intersection…let’s look a little closer:

photo_analysis

Even though there is still about a foot clearance at the seawall, the intersection itself is below the level of the water in the canal……gotta love this kind of civil engineering.

Here is Miami Beach, showing the water levels at Mean Higher High Water:

miami_mhhw

MHHW [mean higher high water] is the level of the water at the higher of the two daily high tides.  The mean of those “higher high water” levels is the MHHW – what we normally would consider the High Tide Mark.  The bright green areas are “low lying areas”, known to be below this level.  These SLR images are courtesy of NOAA at https://coast.noaa.gov/slr/ .

While we’re here, let’s look at the data for sea water levels in Miami.  This one image contains almost all you need to know about this problem:

tides_and_sl_data

I would have liked to re-do all the numbers to be relative to Mean Sea Level [MSL], but have settled on adding in the numbers in red giving the levels above MSL and on the right, the levels above Mean Higher High Water (the “high tide line”).

To summarize, for those who read words better than images:  The highest astronomical tide (a tide cause by the moon, sun, etc, not storm surge) was one foot above the normal MHHW.    The highest observed water level was 1.77 feet above MHHW.  These levels occurred in the 1980s and 90s.  They are historical, as opposed to speculative or modeled future levels.  Note that on the left, at about Mean Sea Level, is a little red bracket ( [ ) that represents the calculated (but not measured) sea level rise in Miami over the last 30 years, just under three (3) inches, which is about one tenth (1/10th) of the range of the tide, from low to high, which averages about 32 inches.

Now, let’s look at Miami, with our NOAA sea level viewer, for a sea level one foot above MHHW  [ remember, the first sea level image above was for Mean Higher High Water (or for landlubbers, the high tide mark) ]:

miami_1ft_slr

Circled in light blue are the areas that we see over and over in the MSM – those areas that are guaranteed to flood during the highest of predictable astronomical tides.  One of these areas includes Alton and 10th (second up from the bottom) and almost the entire Miami Golf Club (green means low lying areas not actually connected physically to the sea by a water way).  Not that bad, really, except that the areas that appear as light blue pixels will be filled with sea water at every above-average high tide.

But that data table from NOAA shows that sea water levels have been observed – historically known to have taken place and recorded – as much as 1.77 feet above MHHW.  NOAA does not offer the ability to see what 1.77 feet (just over 21 inches) of additional sea water looks like, but we can look at 2 feet (which is just 3 inches more):

miami_2ft_slr

Light blue pixels represent flooding from sea water.

This problem has nothing whatever to do with sea level rise.  It is a civil engineering problem of almost unimaginable magnitude.  This city has been built – for all intents and purposes – almost precisely at predictable, recurring sea levels.  It is already inescapably flooding from normal predicted tides and it will continue to flood unless sea level drops a foot or two, which is not going to happen during this millennium.

But wait, it gets worse.  What was the highest ever observed sea water level?  The Maximum35 inches above MHHW MSL. (correction h/t Brigantine and notwhatbutwho)  What does that do to Miami Beach?

miami_3fft_slr

The sea water level was that high in 1984.  City officials were all alive to witness the above flooding event. They are well aware that this level is possible without some great change to the natural system – it doesn’t take global warming sea level rise to flood Miami Beach to this extent.

How much has sea level risen (calculated as there are no existing tide gauges in Miami that have NOAA’s required thirty-year’s of data) in the last 30 years?

miami_sea_level

Just under three inches, at a calculated rate in the 2.0-2.5mm/year range (NOAA, personal communication).  That’s about the thickness of two (2) US pennies.   This sea level rise consists of actual rising sea levels and the geological subsidence of the land at a rate of 0.6 mm/year – about 18 mm or 0.7 inches over the same 30 years.  Let me remind you that it doesn’t matter at all if the sea is rising or the land is sinking, or both – all sea level problems are entirely local consisting only of the physical relationship between sea water levels and the local land mass.

 

Take Home Messages:

Miami Beach is at such grave risk of sea water flooding today that it should preemptively be declared a disaster zone – not because of global-warming-driven sea level rise but due to a seeming total lack of sensible civil engineering standards and sensible building codes.

Much of the above-ground infrastructure of Miami Beach was originally built on land in areas known to be below historical highest water levels (Maximum), and some of it built below normal highest tide levels (HAT and MHHW) – to make matters much worse, much of it is intentionally connected to the sea by canals cut for this purpose.

Almost all of the underground infrastructure is below  Mean Sea Level – this means utility cables, water lines, sewer lines, basements and storm drains.   All subject to sea water intrusion and the resulting corrosion. Most of these features of a modern city have to be protected by pumps – which must have electrical power to continue to operate.  Sewage must be pumped up into sewage treatment plants – storm drain water must be pumped up and back into the sea — it will not move when the power is out.

Hurricanes, the biggest natural disaster threat to the area, in addition to the terrific damage caused by the forces of high winds and surf, can dump inches-to-feet of rain causing fresh-water flooding, raise sea level with storm surge causing sea water flooding and knock out power transmission lines thus stopping or destroying most of the pumps that keep Miami Beach’s infrastructure going.  Auxiliary generators can only keep going for so long before running out of fuel; fuel which cannot be delivered across flooded causeways and through flooded streets.

The slow inextricable rise of the sea – the majority of which is down to the geological recovery of the Earth from the last Ice Age – will continue at a rate somewhere between 2.0 to 2.5 mm/year — equivalent to  8 to 10 inches over the next century.   The entirety of southern Florida will continue to subside (move towards the center of the Earth) at a rate near 0.6 mm/year equivalent to 2/10th foot or 2 1/3 inches over the next century.  (The expected sea level rise includes the expected subsidence.)  Nothing mankind can do will stop these processes – they must be reckoned with.

Some areas of Miami Beach (and other seaside cities built on barrier islands, sandbars and/or built on fill in tidal zones) will suffer higher rates of subsidence as soil is slowly washed out from under the buildings and roads by the coming and going of the tides in nearby waterways – a process that can be abated only at great expense.

Sea Level Rise, regardless of cause,  is a peripheral, minor issue to the problems Miami Beach has with the sea – Miami Beach is already a century behind** in implementing mitigation efforts if it wishes to survive in the long run as a viable modern city.

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**  Miami Beach was once a pleasant seaside resort and agricultural community on the sandy barrier island off of Florida’s southern coast. It should have been left that way.  If development was imperative it should have been subjected to long-term realistic planning that would have prevented the present-day disaster-in-waiting.

miami_beach_1920

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Author’s Comment Policy:

I’ll be happy to answer your questions and give more references if anyone wants them.

My biggest fear for Miami Beach and many other similar areas along America’s eastern seaboard is a repeat of the 1900 Galveston, Texas disaster.

I have never lived in Miami Beach, but have lived in Cocoa Beach, Florida, which suffers similar problems, which had a near miss with Hurricane Matthew. We have friends there (on the Banana River side) who lost their entire riverside front yard in Matthew.  Their home is 2 feet above Mean High Tide.

There is a new-ish activist movement pushing King Tides which I will write about once I have a clear idea of who is paying for it.

You may contact me by email at my first name at the domain i4 decimal net if you wish.

This essay is not about climate change (under any name) – please restrict your comments to the issues discussed.  If your comment is specifically addressed to me, please indicate so by using Kip as the first word — like “Kip, please explain why you say…”

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172 thoughts on “Miami’s Vice

    • oppti ==> Use maps.google.com searching for Biscayne Bay, Florida. You’ll see that it might be possible, on the scale of Europe’s low-lands, but not really immediately practical.

      • An immediate practical method would be a series of 9 Locks ala Panama along the outlets to the ocean from Biscayne Bay (Fisher & Dodge Islands) to North Palm Beach. They would only be closed at High Tides but could still opetate during those times and could remain open at low tides.
        Granted there is still about 77 Miles of beach front between the bay and Juno Beach that would still require some form of Storm Surge protection a couple times a decade

      • Bryan A December 7, 2016 at 2:20 pm

        An immediate practical method would be a series of 9 Locks ala Panama along the outlets to the ocean from Biscayne Bay (Fisher & Dodge Islands) to North Palm Beach.

        You misunderstand the geology. A barrier island such as Palm Beach is just a pile of sand. You put a lock in a pile of sand and the water just flows through the sand.

        You can see this on Miami Beach at high tide in places away from the ocean. The water doesn’t come from the coast. It rises up from underneath, because the sand is totally porous.

        Regards,

        w.

      • w. ==> Yes, exactly — massive sea walls, buried dykes, etc etc — but not a practical solution in sight.

      • W
        In your estimation, if the locks remained closed, could the interior water level effectively be dropped by 2 or 3 feet? Or would the Atlantic still bleed through?

      • Kip, the only practical solution is what they did in Galveston. Raise the entire island by several feet held together by a large sea wall. Otherwise, it will simply have to be abandoned.

        There are large amounts of other things you can suggest, but nothing else can avoid this intractable problem. It will be inordinately expensive, but if any city in this country can afford it, Miami Beach can.

        Unfortunately, if I know humanity, it will only be done in the same way that Galveston was, after the entire city is wiped from the Earth due to a massive hurricane.

      • Bryan A ==> Well, it is a lot easier once Nature has cleared off all the buildings and roads. One good Cat 5 hurricane, coming up from the SW ought to do it.

      • Fortunately there hasn’t been one of those come into that area in a very long time, even a landfalling cat 3 hasn’t happened in over 11 years

  1. Kip,
    a calculated rate in the 2.0-2.5mm/year range, and

    the geological subsidence of the land at a rate of 0.6 mm/year

    don’t tally with

    The slow inextricable rise of the sea – the majority of which is down to the geological recovery of the Earth from the last Ice Age

    • tony,

      I don’t follow your tally. Perhaps you are referencing his poor choice of words in saying the recovery of the Earth from the last Ice Age? He should have either referenced the little ice age or the last glaciation as we are only in an interglacial period of the current Ice Age.

      Other than that, melting ice caps and heat expansion of the oceans is adding volume to the water in the basins leading to a constant sea level rise of about 1-2mm/yr. When you add subsidence or subtract rise from that number, you get local sea level change.

      • You forgot one important aspect of local sea level — sedimentation. The mangrove swamps and marsh that the city was built on trapped sediment and effectively canceled out all sea level rise and subsidence. Now they sweep the sand and silt off after floods, ergo, a sinking barrier island. Other barrier islands without development are witnessing no local sea level change.

      • Rwturner ==> The sea facing sides of US East Coast barrier islands don’t have mangroves, and depend on their maintenance on sand added and taken away by the sea. Miami Beach was not built on swamp land, but on a sandy barrier island and sedimentation was not a major factor there.

        The barrier islands of North Carolina, many of which are restricted park land, are created and destroyed., reshaped, cut in two or joined into one, by every passing or land-falling hurricane or major tropical storm.

      • What? no, the high priced resorts were built on the dunes, but the flooding areas you are talking about most certainly were built in swampy areas. Look at your flood maps, they are all on the west side of the island where the mangroves and scrub environments were prior to development. The landfilling of swamps and removal of mangroves is documented here. file:///C:/Users/Robert/Documents/CC/Miami%20Beach%20Historic%20Events%20Timeline_%201900’s%20-%20The%20History%20of%20Miami%20Beach,%20Florida.html

        This island looked much like the uninhabited islands to the south where vegetation is still vital in slowing erosion and trapping sediment on the lagoon side, especially during storm surges.

      • Unless I misunderstand, you’ll only add subsidence to get local sea level change, not “subtract” it from anything.

      • James Close ==> If the land goes down, it has the same effect on the relationship between the land and the sea surface as the sea surface going up. So, yes, one would add the amount that the sea surface has risen (moved away from the center of the Earth) to the land subsidence amount (the distance the land has moved towards the center of the Earth). Those two things comprise (make up) Relative Sea Level. Relative sea level is the ONLY thing that matters for any coastal location — how much and in what direction is the sea surface moving relative to this land surface.

    • oh for God’s sake…I’m so tired of this Miami beach sea level rise crap….

      The west side…where the blue pixels are…is land fill and sinking..faster than sea level rise
      …and those dark cloudy pictures are rain…how is the water on the street higher than the water in the canal?

      The contribu on of land subsidence to the increasing coastal flooding hazard in Miami Beach

      •  Preliminary InSAR results detected localized subsidence, up to -­‐3 mm/yr,
      mainly in reclaimed land located along the western side of Miami Beach.
      •  Although the detected subsidence veloci,es are quite low, their effect on
      the flooding hazard is significant, because houses originally built on higher
      ground have subsided since the city was built, about 80 years ago, by 16-­‐24
      cm down to flooding hazard zones.
      •  The combined effect of subsidence and SLR further expose the subsiding
      areas to higher flooding hazard than the rest of the city

      http://www.ces.fau.edu/arctic-florida/pdfs/fiaschi-wdowinski.pdf

    • Tony ==> The SLR figures for Miami are from NOAA by personal communication…but are not out of line with the average SLR figures for other, measured, sites along Florida’s East coast. The generally accepted (for what its worth) global SLR rate is 1.7-1.8 mm/yr long term average. That plus 0.6 mm is within the stated range of 2.0-2.5 mm/yr.

    • Ok, I’ll rephrase the question.

      How much of the sea level rise in Miami is due water level rising and how much due to land subsidence?
      It looks to have risen about 2.75 inches in 30 years. How much of that can be attributed to land subsidence?

      • tony ==> “The entirety of southern Florida will continue to subside (move towards the center of the Earth) at a rate near 0.6 mm/year equivalent to 2/10th foot or 2 1/3 inches over the next century. ” or recently ” This sea level rise consists of actual rising sea levels and the geological subsidence of the land at a rate of 0.6 mm/year – about 18 mm or 0.7 inches over the same 30 years. “

  2. It’s not just the NY Times and the libs that are pushing the bs that Miami’s tidal flooding represents disastrous sea level rise caused by “climate change.”

    FOX NEWS is doing it to!

    A bit over a month ago Fox did a segment on the candidates’ views on climate change. Prominent in the segment were scenes of the Miami flooding, and that was attributed to sea level rise. It’s well known that that’s bs, and Fox knew it was bs. Still Fox propagated that leftist bs.

    Plus, a few days after the election the apparent idiot Bill O’Reilly came out and said that Trump should stick with the Paris Accord. Insane.

    We need to hold Fox News’s feet to the fire on climate change. Or find another channel, and let Fox join CBS & NBC etc as just another POS station.

  3. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    A brilliant picture presentation by WUWT guest blogger Kip Hansen expertly debunks Miami’s supposed global-warming-induced, sea-level rise/flooding hysteria!

    “Miami Beach is at such grave risk of sea water flooding today that it should preemptively be declared a disaster zone – not because of global-warming-driven sea level rise but due to a seeming total lack of sensible civil engineering standards and sensible building codes.”

  4. “It is a civil engineering problem of almost unimaginable magnitude.”

    Could be. Never been to Florida. But it is not only about rich people in Florida. Think of old Europe! Think of Venice! There were no problems for more than thousend years. Think of the Netherlands. A quater of the country is built below sea level. And think of that sunny islands in the Pacific. There are no millionaire’s beach houses (not only).

    And about your pennys: You know sea level rise will not be linear. The majority of sea level rise is going to be in the last 20 years of this century.

    • “The majority of sea level rise is going to be in the last 20 years of this century.”

      in Fact? How do we know this, projection or prediction?

      • Bryan ==> The salient fact is “Though this figure is based on the gauge readings from 1930 to 1980”.

        Nonetheless, in email with a chap at NOAA’s SLR group, he cites a confident SLR figure of 2.0 – 2.5 mm/yr for Miami.

        The only currently operating tide gauge in the Miami area is Virginia Key — and it does not yet have 30 years of continuous data.

      • Provided he can supply a link…Latitudes Satellite measurements indicate a Sea Level Rise of 3.8cm in the 20 years between 1993 & 2013. 1993 – 2003 = 20mm (2mm per year) and 2003 – 2013 = 18mm (1.8mm per year) which is less than indicated from the NOAA site. This could indicate a slow down rather than an increase

  5. Kip, I think you need to give more attention to subsidence, especially differential subsidence that is worse at the current problem locations. If I recall correctly, most of Miami Beach is artificially built up by dredged material. The city’s own surveyor’s cache of measurements ought to illuminate a differential subsidence rate.

    • Stephen ==> Absolutely right on subsidence. In the Take Home Messages section, I state “Some areas of Miami Beach (and other seaside cities built on barrier islands, sandbars and/or built on fill in tidal zones) will suffer higher rates of subsidence ….” and make your point.

      Norfolk/Portsmouth, VA, another SLR poster-child, suffers from exactly that.

      • Kip, Don’t know if it helps your arguments or not but why isn’t Miami proper affected in the same way? About 2 miles away it seems the SLR should get them also. Or why does the Overseas highway not flood during normal high tides? Maybe the next person to sell a Condo off of Alton St. will qualify as a climate refugee.

        sarc(ishly) Fl should be several states. The Key’s should be their own. SE FL should probably be annexed by California. And then the Panhandle should be cut into LA/AL. Of course this would cut off Tallahassee but then this would be a good thing.

      • taz ==> The answer is that Maimi is on the mainland..and has slightly more elevation, in general, than Miami Beach, which is built on a barrier island.

        Here is Miami (the city on the mainland) with 2 feet of SLR:

        You see some flooding along the bay and some along the river.

      • Thanks Kip.

        Clearly I don’t know the original topography. My Grandfather could have elaborated but huge chunks of Miami are filled Everglades. They lived for a long time on the left side of Little Havana and then East of Kendall on what had been (filled land) tomato farms. Not sure what it is about the lime rock but of course there’s Key Limes (which need the lime for taste) and St.Augustine grass loved it.

        Back to the barrier island, it seems most of the flooding is on the bay side; the beach side seems ok which might be counter intuitive to SLR causation. Again I’d had instant reference from my Grandparents but it would be interesting to see when the flooding first started being reported.

        I’d say start bringing in more fill but then if Andrew had landed 15-20miles North the tidal flooding might be a non-issue, the island may have been near swept clean.

      • Taz,

        Possibly counter-intuitive, but consider New Orleans, with the old French Quarter on naturally higher ground and all the later development below MSL protected by not very good levees or barriers.

        The higher parts of Miami Beach are on the naturally elevated tops of the barrier island dunes. The bay side is mostly land filled by developers.

  6. People everywhere insist on building on floodplains. They shouldn’t be allowed to do that but, if they do, they shouldn’t be eligible for disaster assistance. Why should the rest of us have to pay for their stupidity?

    There’s an association for floodplain managers. I can’t find anything on their website about keeping people from building on floodplains.

    • As far as I know, one thing that prohibits the building on a “floodplain” is the fact that banks will not finance (mortgage) the construction unless you purchase Flood Insurance.

      The EPA might and can prohibit said construction via the Wetlands and Clean Water Act.

      • The EPA should keep their noses out of it unless the construction leads to damage to the environment – not just because it is unwise. The solution to this is pretty simple – make the insurance expensive enough to cover the losses and people won’t buy there because no bank will loan the money if their money is immediately at risk.

      • Samuel

        Unfortunately, the EPA , literally, is not in the business of doing things that make sense.

      • National Flood Insurance isn’t the issue – it is the disaster relief that is called for (and provided by tax payers) every time one of the flood plains does what its name suggests and floods.

        Land close to rivers/waterways was the original site for most human settlements due to both soil fertility and transport requirements. Neither of these is now an imperative for human development, but there remain strong demand from people to live in these areas. Since we live in a system which provides disaster relief to those affected by natural events (paid for by a general taxation and removing much of the financial risk for people living in these areas), at what stage should/can we impose limits on where people live?

      • Well then why not oppose building in tornado zones, ice storm zones and any other zone that may happen to have a natural disaster hit it. Hell, lets all fight over the tiny piece of property that is immune to any natural event, if there even is one.

      • Tom in Florida,

        This is totally apropos of nothing, but when I first read your comment, i read it as, “…do a little more research on National FOOD Insurance first.” that really threw me for a (Fruit) loop.

  7. I would note that poor civic planning and engineering is not the sole province of sea-level dwellers. I see plenty of examples of the same around here – (approximately) one kilometer above MHHW.

    There are many streets that the wise just do not travel when monsoon clouds are anywhere around.

  8. As a resident of the Netherlands I have spent quite some time in Texas and was surprised about their protection from sea, no major civil engineering existed. I experienced two storm surges and nobody was surprised, it was like “happens now and then”. And sea level rise might be small it results in a relatively higher impact of the storm surges.

    • JJM, there might be a business opportunity here for you advising the Miami Beach city Fathers and Mothers about how the Netherlands copes with this kind of thing.

    • The middle to lower Texas coast fortunately has low subsidence, substantial barrier islands and a low frequency of direct storm strikes, especially more recently. Smaller events with flooding are more common. Only a small amount of the barrier islands is available for development, and compared to other states is probably more sensible. However, there are plenty of examples of poor building planning and evacuations will be a nightmare. Upper coast another matter, smaller islands, more subsidence and erosion and higher frequency of storms.

      • Let us not forget that when you build on a Texas barrier island, your first floor (with walls) is 12 feet above ground. (used to be 8, or 10, but they raised the minimum after Ike). One of the key new building codes is that any concrete for driveways and carports be constructed to breakaway in small pieces, as one of the causes of great damage in past storm surges was huge blocks of concrete being lifted and becoming battering rams to neighboring houses.

        Where ever you chose to live, it is a matter of preparation. And insurance policies that say, for price X, we will pay no damages for water below level Y.

    • For a completely different reason, I recently had to look at plans for storm surge civil engineering in Harris County Texas (Houston, plus it surroundings). One of the issues with the kind of civil engineering needed to handle the regular, but not very often, floods is that there are a large number of people who would be affected by the engineering works directly – often people who do not see the flooding as a critical issue. Temporary, infrequent, flooding is acceptable to the voting population in comparison to the guaranteed disruption and forced purchases required by the civil engineering works.

      The flooding (in this county) is not affected by sea level rise (or storm surges), but by the (urban) development which increases rain-water run-off and reduces the previous drainage channels. Controls or limits on development to address this are often not applicable in areas affected by the flooding as these areas are already fully developed. It is difficult to compare the systems in place in the Netherlands, which were constructed many years ago and in themselves allowed for the urban development, with the situation on the ground in already highly developed cities.

  9. 35in above *MSL*, as per the datums image? Or 35in above *MHHW*, as the map with the worst flooding is described as being?

    • Brigantine ==> Quite right, thank you. I have corrected the text. I can only plead “Too Many Acronyms!”

  10. 35in above *MSL*, as per the datums image? Or 35in above *MHHW*, as the map with the worst flooding is described as being?

  11. Couple of points..
    Even though these homes are owned by ‘Millionaires’, had they been a few feet higher would not it be the playground of Billionaires. Just because they cost (what the ordinary pleb considers) a lotta money for the present owners, what would someone have paid without the flooding?

    Along that vein and from what I’ve seen of the floods in Carlisle recently. The flooded streets (after the flood subsided) were lined with rubbish-skips being filled with perfectly good furniture and perfectly good bathroom suites. As most bathrooms are upstairs in those houses and the water didn’t reach that far, does the Skeptic among us see what is going on?
    Climate Change has given those folks a fantastic way of making a shed load of $$$. When the flood hits, as it surely will and only the most stupid wilful liar will not admit he knows it, the flodd will be blamed on someone else- Climate Change.
    So of course, Government and insurers race in the repair the damage, sure in the knowledge that solid gold bathroom suites, 200″ TVs, fleets of Cadillacs, Bentleys and Teslas, wardrobes full of pure silk clothes, handwoven Arabian rugs the size of football fields etc etc need to be replaced.
    Its a much safer bet than putting on an old nag in the 2:30 at your average racecourse innit?

  12. Wow. I mean wow. This post deserves very wide readership, both among decisionmakers and Miami residents.

    Very well done piece, Kip, clear and interesting.

    w.

      • cephus,

        “… how is this information to be disseminated to a wider audience?”

        Internet sources (like this one), which are rising as the corporate mass media is subsiding. That trend (to my mind) is the reason the “fake news” mantra has been introduced and parroted by the fading voices of presumed authority, which have become suspect in the minds of vast numbers of people.

        If attempts to censor/limit free speech on the internet fail, it seems inevitable to me that the sort of report we see here (and the open public discussions they invite/entrain) will become the new standard for influential journalism. The *news and information* sources that ignore such reports/discussions will continue to wither and die, as more and more people acquire a taste for some beef on their burgers ; )

  13. The New Yorker’s view (through the eyes of Elizabeth Kolbert) of Miami’s flooding problem. Published December 2015.

    The Siege of Miami
    As temperatures climb, so, too, will sea levels

    The city of Miami Beach floods on such a predictable basis that if, out of curiosity or sheer perversity, a person wants to she can plan a visit to coincide with an inundation. Knowing the tides would be high around the time of the “super blood moon,” in late September, I arranged to meet up with Hal Wanless, the chairman of the University of Miami’s geological-sciences department. Wanless, who is seventy-three, has spent nearly half a century studying how South Florida came into being. From this, he’s concluded that much of the region may have less than half a century more to go.
    [ … ]
    According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, sea levels could rise by more than three feet by the end of this century. The United States Army Corps of Engineers projects that they could rise by as much as five feet; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts up to six and a half feet. According to Wanless, all these projections are probably low. In his office, Wanless keeps a jar of meltwater he collected from the Greenland ice sheet. He likes to point out that there is plenty more where that came from.

    http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/21/the-siege-of-miami

    • Quoting the IPCC on anything climate related is a mark of poor research. The Army Corps of Engineers consists of engineers, not scientists. They are no authority on anything climate-related either. Ditto for NOAA, an alarmist organization for the past 20 years and incompetent for at least that long. And I don’t think that just because Wanless is located in Miami that he has any “special” knowledge as to what the future brings. He is not a climatologist. The sea level rise over the past several centuries ihas been very consistent and very small, and neither increasing nor decreasing. Compared to the century increases thousands of years ago, it is tiny. Back then a hundred or more feet per century was almost the norm. What we have here is almost imperceptible.To the extent that warming temps are causing a portion of the sea level rise, anyone who claims to know what those temps will be 80 years from now is lying, much less how they will translate into sea level rise.
      I a world where rapid technological change is the norm, why would anyone assume that CO2 emissions will remain as they are for the next 100 years ? That’s just plain crazy.

      • It is my view that many “experts” uncritically use as input the opinions of IPCC and others involved specifically in creating climate forecasts. And why wouldn’t they? The Army Corps (for example) can beaver away spending their budget on flood control and if it turns out to be unneeded they can say, “Not my problem. We did our work based on what the world’s experts on climate change predicted.”

        OTM: Other People’s Money.

        This is how the world’s news organizations will respond when climate change turns out to be a non-event — “We’re not the experts. We just report what the experts say.”

        Elizabeth Kolbert …
        Her three-part series on global warming, “The Climate of Man,” won the 2006 National Magazine Award for Public Interest, the 2005 American Association for the Advancement of Science Journalism Award, and the 2006 National Academies Communication Award.

        [ … ] is [ … ] the author of [ … } “The Sixth Extinction,” for which she won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction.

        http://www.newyorker.com/contributors/elizabeth-kolbert

    • rovingbroker ==> Kolbert at least starts out stating the actuality — but leaves out that it has been going on for at least the last 50 years — “The city of Miami Beach floods on such a predictable basis that if, out of curiosity or sheer perversity, a person wants to she can plan a visit to coincide with an inundation. Knowing the tides would be high around the time of the “super blood moon,” in late September,….” The super blood moon brings a King Tide.

  14. This is really cool new feature on the net – Google Earth Engine timelapse. Showing the last 30 years of Google Earth and satellite images zoomable; go anywhere on the planet. To see how much development and change there has been in a particular location over the last 30 years.

    It actually opens up right on Biscayne Bay in Miami as its default. You can zoom farther down if you want or move farther north into the Bay to see how much new land is still being reclaimed from the ocean for new development. .

    https://earthengine.google.com/timelapse/

    You can type any location on the planet you want and it will move out and zoom in on it. Check your hometown. Bookmark this page.

    • I have a concern about this with Google “showing” the last 30 years of Google Earth, really? Just does not compute! If Google have their way you will never see real books in libraries, just digitised “copies” online, easily manipulated.

    • The salt is in the air. Do not buy a used car from near a coast. Put it up on a rack and have a look.
      Do not keep a new one too long, either.

  15. Food for thought,after watching this 3min video i think anyone ‘predicting’ sea level is just wasting their time.

  16. In the Journal of Coastal Research, July 2006, Larson et al. found that the long term rate of sea level rise, going back up to 6,000 years, was on the order of 1 or 2 mm/yr after isostatic adjustments. They found no correlation of recent sea level rise with carbon dioxide rise.

    • DHR ==> Global SLR is a very contested subject, lots of uncertainty, lots of room for “too much maths”.

  17. Miami Beach may be bad, but New Orleans is infinitely worse. See http://pesn.com/2005/09/23/9600175_Rebuild_Energy_Systems_Not_NewOrleans/
    Summary…

    The river is moving away from the city. The city is sinking because of its weight, because no upbuilding by new muck for many decades, because of being cut off from the fresh water, because it is sliding off a cliff (the Continental Shelf), and because the Oil and Gas Industry is extracting oil out from under it. It is a city that for all intents and purposes is now Sea domain. Spend the money on developing alternative energy solutions instead.

  18. I have pointed this out in other articles on WuWT. Often the photographs used to illustrate newspaper articles covering King tide flooding are of places far away from Miami Beach or the shore. In south Florida, we often experience heavy, tropical downpours from afternoon thunderstorms. Since Florida is fairly flat, it takes a long while for rain water to drain off, causing floods in low areas. This has NOTHING to do with tides or sea level rise. But pictures of cars on Dixie Highway plowing through standing water are used to “illustrate” sea level rise scare stories. It’s much like photographs of water vapor plumes rising from chimneys with the sun in the background, so the plume appears dark and menacing. A picture, sometimes, is worth a thousand lies.

    • Mumbles ==> I have been a journalist — however, I was in radio news. Images seen in the MSM are often stock photos that are found by searches of stock image catalogs or with newspaper, in their own photo morgues.

      Google will happily search out other uses of the same image on the ‘Net to tell you how ubiquitous an image is.

  19. Think about it from the Climate Liar’s perspective: pictures are powerful, emotional tools. And emotion, not rational thought, is the endgame. For them, a picture tells a thousand lies.

  20. Excellent, fact-based article. This is exactly what is needed in today’s climate wars. We should see this and embrace the results regardless of what the facts show – the good, the bad, and the ugly (from a skeptic’s view).

    I will take issue with one statement. Kip says sea level rise “…will continue at a rate somewhere between 2.0 to 2.5 mm/year — equivalent to 8 to 10 inches over the next century.”

    This is stated with a bit too much confidence, in my view. It is entirely possible that slr will accelerate, or perhaps has already accelerated (depending on whose data one believes) due to climate change. If it does, or has, it’s impossible to tell how much. But acceleration should be considered a real possibility, and not just ignored.

    • The problem with this assertion is that unadjusted data is not showing acceleration, just a long monotonous rise in the 2mm/yr range (some years more some less). The solution of course is simple, either make large investments in sea defenses, or move to higher ground. In the last millennium, both were used: sea defenses were chosen in the Netherlands, while some small coastal port cities in England just moved upriver a bit. There are under water ruins just off shore in many parts of the world where subsidence and sea level rise ended cities. This is nothing new.

    • scraft1 ==> Global SLR, as far as has been “measured” to date, shows an extremely long, nearly straight long-term trend, relatively unchanging for as long as there are modern records. Nothing of magnitude has really changed to alter that long-term trend.

      Judith Curry said recently:

      “Ok, sea level decline from 1979 (when we have good observations), but that is not particularly useful in the climate debate owing to large, long time scale natural variability.

      Sea level has been rising for thousands of years; current rate of sea level rise was about the same as in the 1930’s and 1940’s as per a figure in the AR5”

    • Scraft1, there has been no observed SLR acceleration yet. Unless manufactured by appending sat alt onto tide gauge, equivalent to Mike’s Nature trick. It could only come from two sources: an increase in the rate of ice sheet mass loss, and/or an increase in the rate of thermosteric rise.
      Apart from some minor spots (PIG on the Amundsen Embayment in Antarctica sitting on a tectonic hotspot) there is no evidence of increasing ice sheet loss. Greenland has recently been accumulating. Antarctica as a whole is stable to increasing (observational GIA correction to GRACE post 2013, Zwally IceSat 2015). Argo shows no accelerating accumulation of OHC that would lead to accelerating thermosteric rise. The evidence is simply lacking.
      Essays Tipping Points and PseudoPrecision looked at all this in some detail. There is no there, there.

      • Are you saying it’s not possible that temperature increase rate will not accelerate between now and 2100? If it does, ice will melt faster and rate of thermosteric rise will increase. I agree that the observational evidence is lacking, but are you confident that this won’t change? If you are confident, is that based on the lack of observational evidence to date?

        Based on who’s temperature record you wish to believe, Temps recently increased at between .15 and .20 C deg. per decade. If that continues, that means between 1.5 and 2.0 degrees per century, right? Are you confident that won’t continue?

      • There isn’t a shred of evidence that temperature increases will continue, much less accelerate.
        Yes, temps did increase, however the vast majority of that increase had nothing to do with CO2.

      • MarkW – “There isn’t a shred of evidence that temperature increases will continue, much less accelerate.” What evidence do you have they won’t continue? Are you one of those that deny the GHE? What about increasing Co2 levels?

        “Yes, temps did increase, however the vast majority of that increase had nothing to do with CO2.” And how do you know this?

        I’m hearing people saying that things won’t change in the future. I’m pretty sure that they are wrong.

        Kip Hansen, Judy Curry says a short period of sea level decline is not sufficient to assume a long-term trend is altered. If you ask her whether slr will accelerate I’m pretty sure she’ll say she doesn’t know, but that if temps increase rapidly then slr rate will increase also.

      • scraft1
        December 7, 2016 at 5:11 pm

        There is no evidence that whatever warming actually has occurred during the rise in CO2 from the ’40s is attributable to that increase in a GHG. Indeed, all the evidence says that any CO2 contribution is negligible to unmeasurable, if any.

        From the ’40s until the PDO flip in 1977, earth cooled dramatically despite steadily rising CO2. This was so pronounced, that scientists feared a return of a big ice age. Then, from 1977 to 1998, slightly rising temperature (maybe) happened accidentally to coincide with continued monotonous increases in CO2 levels. After the super El Nino of 1997-8, GASTA at best was flat, until the super El Nino of 2015-6.

        Thus, the AGW hypothesis was born falsified. It had been show false previously, when rising temperatures from the end of WWI to the start of WWII led some to suspect a GHG explanation. But the frigid winters of the 1960s and ’70s showed this hypothesis false.

        Let alone CAGW. Those who espoused the hypothesis in the first half of the 20th century rightly considered AGW, if it existed, to be beneficial. The human effect from cleaning the air has had more effect on GASTA than have our GHGs.

      • Kip said rate of slr for the remainder of the 21st century would not change. I said that sounds like misplaced confidence. One assumes nothing will change at one’s peril.

        Just sayin’.

      • scraft1 ==> Under the best guidelines for forecasting under deeply uncertain conditions, the best forecast is “more of the same” — the longer the same has been, the more likely correct the forecast.

        Since nothing much has changed over the last 150 years, we expect the same to continue, more or less, for the next 75 years or so. To forecast something different would be poor practice.

        There has been very little temperature change and very little temperature change is expected (note: very little applies to a degree or two…). Certainly nothing far out of the ordinary seen over the last few hundred years.

      • Scraft1;
        Just another abuse of the overworked Precautionary Platitude. There are lots of calamitous things that could happen, but show no sign of doing so. Since the cost of fending any of them off is so high, absent evidence of *real* peril there is no action warranted.

      • MarkW December 7, 2016 at 8:13 am
        “If the earth starts to cool, as many are expecting”

        Really, name some of the many?

    • My vote is that it will slow down.
      I have no proof, just as you do not.
      We used to call this fiction writing.

  21. It is clear that “fake news” and mainstream media “climate change news” are synonymous. Thank you for shedding light – and truth – on yet another example of just how corrupt climate fear mongers really are. Miami is likely to suffer massively in the foreseeable future from the basic engineering failures you have outlined. Every dollar, every hour that the climate change movement wastes on their fake news and phony policies makes The problem facing Miami and other at risk cities worse, not better.

  22. Excellent article and pictures.

    I saw one reporter hyping climate change sea level rise in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew by pointing out the flooding that had been caused in Miami “by the hurricane”.

  23. A large chunk of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is built on land reclaimed from the bottom of the North Sea. The altitude of Schiphol Airport, one of the busiest in the world is -3 meters. You can build anywhere, it is a matter of engineering, cost, risk, and value.

    My mother, may she rest in peace, owned a house in South Florida, that was 12 feet above sea level and only about a hundred yards from the ocean. I had read that the maximum expected storm surge in that area was 25 ft. I was glad to be able to sell that place after she died.

    Floridians have been living with these risks all along. They will continue to exist until such time as the next glaciation begins (which would be a climate change that would create real problems) or until Floridians develop the good sense of the Dutch, which is far more improbable than than the former.

    In any event, low lying South Florida is not a problem for people outside of Florida to worry about.

    • Yes, I worry about South Florida if the general taxpayer is to be expected to fix it. I also worry about downtown NYC and Norfolk/Va. Beach for the same reason.

      As discussed above, that has been the general pattern so far. The taxpayer bailed out hundreds of homeowners on Staten Island who had no flood insurance.

      • scraft1

        You worry about an interesting variety of things. You must be exhausted.

        And we haven’t even discussed getting hit in the head by a meteorite…

      • Javert Chip. Does it make any difference to you who pays to fix S.Florida? Or if you continue to bail out people who fail to buy flood insurance? There will be tons of money spent on these problems. You probably should think about where the money comes from.

  24. Don’t criticize the civil engineers for this. They certainly know the risks of building in a flood zone. Blame the wealthy who will buy waterfront property without caring about the flooding until it’s too late and the zoning boards who approve the construction.

    • Gary ==> Point taken — a civil engineering failure, not necessarily committed by civil engineers!

  25. Low lying Florida real estate has been something of a joke for a long time. Add in subsidence from overpumping aquifers, it gives advocates all the pictures of flooding they want. I think it is as silly to buy something that routinely floods as it is unethical to sell it.

    • Tom

      Ethics has nothing to do with it.

      Humans easily convince themselves to heavily discount the NPV of future catastrophic events (excluding CAGW evangelists). The new rich guy buying the Miami property from the old rich guy simply does not believe bad things will happen, or if they do, it won’t be so bad. Human nature.

  26. Regarding the flooding in Miami and Miami Beach, it seems to me (and maybe I’m wrong here) that building codes should have been written to require residencial and other buildings be built up on pylons or stilts. I’ve seen photos of residences built up on stilts in hurricane prone areas to guard against the flooding of the storm surge. I believe that they do this in the Florida Keys and in areas of the tropics near the coast. Unfortunately, as the author of this post has said, this does nothing to prevent infrasturcture like water and sewer lines from becoming corroded by the saltwater.

    This would probably be controversial and unpopular, but I think one solution in the VERY long term is to simply abandon the flood prone areas near the coast slowly over time. As buildings go up for sale, they would be bought out by the state or federal govt as part of the abandonment process. This obviously would be very costly, but it is the price we humans perhaps need to pay for our stupidity. Those areas would then be simply converted into public beaches and parks.

    Just my 2 cents worth.

      • CD. Once again, I would object to making the taxpayer pay to buy bldgs. in the flood plain. Flood prone properties will eventually be abandoned, and then can be condemned at a fair price. Whoever owns the land obviously will take his/her lumps, and that’s the way it should be.

      • scraft1: I understand why you probably don’t want taxpayers buying out flood-prone coastal properties for condemnation. The taxpayer would be buying out stupidity. That is why I said it would be controversial and unpopular among many.

        If the taxpayer is not going to buy them out, then something else needs to happen to induce abandonment of the properties. I fear that the fact that they are flood prone areas and in hurricane country may not be enough to induce abandonment. It has been and perhaps always be very popular to live in a tropical or sub-tropical climate on or near the waterfront.

        I mean, it’s not like we are talking about Detroit here scraft1. Detroit has its share (maybe more than its share) of abandoned properties for economic reasons that Miami and Miami Beach may never experience. There may always be enough naive people (okay, stupid people) willing to buy these Florida properties when someone is selling despite the risks.

        If the taxpayer is not going to buy them out, then a powerful and convincing inducement needs to be put in place to get the abandonment process to begin. I will suggest that this inducement would need to be in the form of no bail-out from the state or federal govt (FEMA) or anyone else when flooding occurs. The property owner is on his/her own.

        The likely problem with that though is that a LOT of coastal property owners are going to scream bloody murder if such a thing is proposed—-which will make is difficult if not impossible for federal or state legislators to enact the proposal.

        A more rational choice is simply to phase in the building code requiring buildings to be elevated off the ground with stilts or pylons of some sort—as is being done now from what I understand. The exception of course would be garages and storage areas. Unfortunately, that phase-in is going to take a very long time…..

    • CD ==> Many areas in the eastern US lowlands now have building codes that required the main living areas of homes to be XX feet above historical highest water, resulting in all new construction being on stilts, as you say. We see this traveling up and down the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

      • Kip – building codes are strict in eastern NC and require 12 feet above high water. Of course, many older properties are not so built. If they are rebuilt after a storm (not easy to do because of coastal management rules) then they must have 12 feet.

      • We visited Newport, KY in the mid-1960s; across the Ohio River from Cincinnati. I have no knowledge of the laws but I do know many of the places were raised — with many normal yard things under them. Such structures can be found in many places.

    • @Kip Hansen and mib8 (below): Glad to see those laws in place requiring homes be up on stilts in the flood prone areas. They also need to be hurricane resistant and withstand hurricane force winds. There is one company in North Carolina that I know of (I won’t give them a free plug here — don’t want to be snipped by Anthony) that specializes in building just such homes. I imagine that they are considerably more expensive to build that ground level homes without the hurricane resistance. I also imagine moving furniture and major appliances in and out of them is more a pain in the you-know-what since they are xx feet off the ground. Forklift maybe.

      The bottom line here is that SOMETHING MAJOR needs to be done in Miami Beach and the flood prone areas of Miami where homes are still at ground level.

    • On one of the episodes of “Tiny House Nation”, a house on stilts was built upon the site where a house was swept away by a hurricane. The mayor of the community stopped by during construction to say nice things about how they were building the replacement and how it might be a model for others to rebuild the devastated community.

      If not literally “stilts”, the rule ought to be that all walls below that minimum level be concrete/masonry that can survive being wet, with the expectation that any spaces enclosed by those walls be reserved for purposes such as garaging vehicles that can be driven to higher ground as a TS/hurricane approaches (and perhaps things like laundry equipment the homeowners understand will need to be replaced after a storm surge floods that space and ruins them, or storage of items that could be readily moved upstairs prior to the storm).

      I would imagine most people who buy beachfront property have plenty of cars they’d like to garage, and would be OK with using the rest of their Below-The-Line space for patios shielded from the hot sun by dint of being underneath the house proper.

      • Monster ==> The modern stilt houses (technically, built on pylons “Pylons are often made of steel or concrete, because they are strong substances that can hold a large amount of weight. A pylon needs to be sturdy, since it is supporting a bridge, road, or power lines.” — in our case, a home) — and the lower level, ground level, looks like the rest of the house but is used as non-living space — usually garages, storage, etc. New homes being built 1/2 mile north of us on the ICW are this type of construction. The front entry to the living area is reached by a long stairway from ground level to what appears to be the second floor.

  27. what’s not to like? Hideous humidity (everything corrodes; for quite a while I chided people about not taking proper care of their tools until I realized that local conditions made that impossible), disease-carrying mosquitoes…

    In other parts of Florida they have, for at least several decades, required that new construction be up on stilts at least 14 or so feet up (depends on local high tide and storm surge estimates). The stilts also help with the mosquitoes, I am told by some swamp-dwellers; they generally do not swarm so high. But then the vehicles and tools and such are typically stored below flooding levels beneath the buildings, so that value must be written off from day 1. (And all that time I’d thought it was non-industrious mañana/hillbilly culture.)

  28. They’ve done the same thing in New Jersey. Built on sandy barrier islands that are no more than 2 or 3 feet above sea level, some even less. Those islands were known to recede and grow. Multi Million dollar houses now sprout along the waterfront like weeds.
    Miami was like most Florida, swampy. There were and sometimes still are real estate scams selling property that is underwater. That dates back at least to the 1920’s. Biscayne Blvd. was built through a swamp. There was a human cost cost to building it, a man a mile.

    • Monna ==> Thank you. When I used “inextricable”, I knew someone would want me to have used some other “in…” word. My editor and I considered several alternatives (wasting way too much time). However, I settled on “inextricable” with the intentional dictionary meaning of:

      impossible to escape from. — “an inextricable situation”

      Thank you for paying attention to language, too few do. I like words!

  29. After watching the Californication of Colorado, one would be thrilled if this article could convince New Yorkers not to move to Florida. BTW, Miami Beach is not Florida, it is in Florida. And while there are other legacy areas that flood regularly….St Petersburg & downtown Tampa have their own “Bright Greens” most of contemporary coastal Florida is being built with living floors @ 13′ above MSL–code when we built on the water in 1983. Over time, areas underwater will protect themselves a la the Netherlands, a cost; or pay for periodic flooding– a cost; or be gradually abandoned or rebuilt safely — a cost. Decisions are made by individuals who are spending their own money. Decisions may be different if we no longer subsidize flood insurance for coastal areas — that’s fine. The market will appropriately price such insurance, and folks will or won’t buy it as they choose. Decisions are better when full information is available, thus kudos to WUWT.
    If I wish to live on the coast, and presume that once over 50 years I’m likely to have to pack my valuables and leave, only to come back to a massive rebuilding project, and consider this a reasonable tradeoff for the joy of living on the water, The New York media can kiss off. Or consider how their infrastructure handled not-quite-a-hurricane ‘Superstorm’ Sandy. Their concerns over Miami are the moat in Gods eye, compared to the sty in their own lowlying areas.

    .

  30. Good Morning Kip,

    Great post. I loved it. Miami is a wacky situation.

    I recall a discussion in the comments a while back maybe 12 months where we were discussing the sea level, the shore line levels, and GPS measurement of them.

    Some pretty sharp people here showed me evidence that there is no known sea level on a planetary scale. Earth is lifting and sinking. It may not even be related to sea level changes where the shoreline is swallowed.

    I would like to see a planetary map of the elevations of all of the shorelines (terrestrial) and have a time lapse of them lifting and sinking,

    • Paul Westhaver ==> Global sea level may well be what I coined to be “an imaginary number”…imaginary in that it does not describe a real physical thing…it can only be imagined. NOAA has a global sea level image showing which areas of the Earth’s ocean are rising and which are falling, and at what rates.

      The ocean, however, is not a bathtub, which maintains a constant surface level over it’s entire area. Adding water in India does not necessarily raise sea levels in Miami. The oceans surfaces are “lumpy”.

      While it is mathematically possible (however improbable) to create a number that one calls Average Global Sea Level and then derive a figure for how much that number is increasing each year, it may not actually mean anything particular in the real world.

      NOAA’s CORS project has a lot of interesting data about the movements of the land masses in America over time.

  31. Kim.
    Recently, the moon was positioned closer to the earth than it had been in the last 40 or so years. It seems to me, that such closeness would increase high tide levels. Has any research been done on this issue?

    • David J. Bufalo ==> Yes, David, this situation is called, amongst other things, a King Tide. In the Author’s Comment Policy section (at the end of the essay) I give a link.

  32. Very eye catching, interesting post. Thanks.

    People born 100 or 200 years from now may not be able to live there. But, they won’t care at all — they’ll just live somewhere else. People adapt to the physical world into which they were born without having to think about it. Only us old folks worry about change — as if it were going to “happen overnight”.

    • In the long term, we are all dead, tadchem.

      Same comment to all who are decrying future costs of fixing past mistakes.

  33. This amounts to the New Orleans Levee Boards for rich people, all working with the underlying assumption that the Feds will come to rescue with other people’s money or debt in an emergency. It’s the free rider problem for rich people and their local governments.

      • Beach replenishment is a different issue. Beaches are public resources, and in NC are enjoyed by the public below mean high water. It’s fair to expect the public to pay at least part of it.

        Beach renourishment is expensive, but is considered a fair cost of maintaining property values and local tax rolls, in addition to providing the public with a useable beach.

        On the barrier island where I live, local taxpayers pay about half and the state pays about half. Atlantic Beach gets dredge spoils from Beaufort Channel at no cost – i.e. feds pay cost of least expensive disposal of dredge spoils, in this case on the beach itself.

      • In New Jersey, the situation is different. Some beaches aren’t public. The only beaches that did not have a fee was in Cape May. That might have changed. But the primary issue in New Jersey is beach replenishment with OPM.

  34. Interestingly the real state market knows that Miami does and will flood regardless of a sea level rise that may or may not happen in a hundred years, and ultimately it doesn’t give any importance to that. Sales prices are on the rise after the 2008 slump, despite all the scaremongering in liberal media.

  35. Good summary post showing the folly of building “perm” structures on a barrier island. Barrier islands exist as energy adsorption features (especially large storms/hurricanes) in some coastal areas as the result of natural seashore processes. Typically their highest points are only a few 10’s of feet above high tides and may be submerged under significant storm surges. They are (by natures’ construct) fleeting in both location and permanence on even very short geological time scales. Age dating studies conducted on Atlantic barrier islands show their formation as post Pleistocene (around 10,000 to 11,000 years before present) and may be considered as continuing to form due to sediment influx via rivers draining the mainland (at least where river control has not dramatically affected sediment transport into the bay behind [landward] of he BI). Construction and river channelization can “starve” the BI system of replenishing sediment causing the BI reducing the BI landmass and exacerbating natural erosion. The folly of placing expensive structures on BI is well known. One day Miami beach will be no more due to nature, and that is without any additional sea-level rise other than the natural rise (still continuing) from the end of the Pleistocene Ice Ages.

  36. I offer an antipodean example:
    http://floodinformation.brisbane.qld.gov.au/fio/

    The link shows the Brisbane (Australia) river flood levels of 1974 and 2011 with 1974 being the higher of the two. Even with the knowledge of the earlier flood, 40 years later we have the same areas underwater and thousands pleading for assistance from the Federal/State governments and insurance companies.

    While this was a storm event and (apparently) mis-management of flood controls at the dams rather than sea level rise, the same development mistakes were made – building on a known flood plain.

  37. Kip: re “There is a new-ish activist movement pushing King Tides which I will write about once I have a clear idea of who is paying for it.”
    Here is the link to the California king tide coven:
    http://california.kingtides.net/
    At the Los Angeles Harbor principal tide gauge, the highest perigean spring tide (I refuse to use the activist term) will be at 0753 Tuesday, December 13, 2016. The water surface elevation will be 7.14 ft MLLW, 6.76 ft MSL NAVD 88, and 4.32 ft MSL NGVD 29.

    I table and sort the tides a water year (July to June) in advance. As you state, the astronomic tides are as predictable as the sun and moon that cause them. The web site itself provides a schedule for future events.

    Conversion between the various vertical datums is here:
    https://www.ngs.noaa.gov/TOOLS/Vertcon/vertcon.html
    Note that county surveying authorities might have adopted an administrative conversion.

  38. I have often wondered about SLR and the impact of general land erosion into the bodies of water and ground water/aquifer extraction and runoff. Sea floor rise also. Just sayin, don’t hear much on those as just a few examples.

    • ossqss ==> Those are all valid questions — related in different ways to SLR. Land erosion into bays creates sand bars and can affect the tides, restricting inflow and outflow, but generally doesn’t affect local MSL. Groundwater extraction can cause land subsidence, lower the land near a body of water, raising local relative sea level. Sea floor rise changes the topology of the bottom, but generally doesn’t have that much effect on surface sea levels, to my knowledge.

  39. Miami Beach is at such grave risk of sea water flooding today that it should preemptively be declared a disaster zone

    Why?
    So they get their feet wet. That is fine with me. It is their choice.
    Just do not tax me for the “damage” of wet feet.
    You say they do not build high enough above sea level? I do not care if they put up coffer dams and pave *below* sea level. Their money, local control, they can do what they want.
    Just do not ask me to pay for it.
    Back where I come from, fine definitions between MHW and MHHW would be silly, tides cause water level to go up and down 20 feet or more *twice a day*.
    We all knew enough to give the ocean the space it wants.

    So what is the problem?

    After all, my wife and I live on our boat.

    Aha! You do grasp the concept! Unless your boat has a serious problem, you are immune from daily sea level changes. You should also be quite protected from all long-term sea level rise, so long as you keep all your through-hull fittings in good shape.

    All those houses right on the water, and just a foot above MHW?
    No problem.
    People payed good money to build them, and people payed good money to buy them. If somebody wants to live on the water and does not want to get flooded, they can use your solution.
    Just do not ask me to pay for it.

    If somebody makes choices, and gets their feet wet, they can get dry socks.
    Just do not ask me to pay for it.

  40. Thanks for giving me another reason not to buy a house in Miami Beach. And for showing me where to do so should I ever totally lose my reason.

    Nice place to visit, though.

    • Chimp ==> Another reason, besides “who can afford such prices?” that’s my excuse (besides not actually owning a home anywhere….)

      • A wise choice on your part.

        Maybe after the next hurricane, prices will be lower.

        Eastern South Beach, built atop the dune, looks like it’s OK from high tides, in between hurricane storm surges. My wife and I stay there, around 15th, but I’m always reminded of Matthew 7:26 when in town.

        In Miami, if not the Beach, waterfront condos go for as little as 130 grand. Not everything costs over a million bucks. There were opportunities after the subprime slime crash.

  41. Let me guess, the President at the time of the next Big One disaster will be criticized for not adding two more zeros to the bailout check and he/she will end up agreeing to three extra zeros on the check. Addition funding will got to LA and Chicago for good measure and to secure the votes.

    • Trump owns Mar a Lago at Palm Beach and Trump International Beach Resort north of Miami Beach, plus another hotel inland in Miami.

    • Beliaik ==> That’s an incredible story — a piece of history I was unaware of. Could it be done today with Miami Beaches hotels and condos? I doubt it. But it is an interesting idea!

  42. Excellent post as usual Kip. You don’t seem to mention pumping of fluids out from under localities as a cause of subsidence. The poster child for this is probably Terminal Island in Los Angeles Harbor. Part of the island sits atop the Wilmington oil field — one of the richest petroleum deposits in the continental US. As a result of petroleum extraction in the 1930s and thereafter, the island which was basically a 4-5 square mile mud flat with a lot of expensive infrastructure built atop it, sank several meters until the subsidence was finally tamed in the 1950s by salt water injection. The subsidence forced the building of huge (and probably expensive) berms on both sides of the channel around the island. Among the consequences of the subsidence, two drawbridges on the North end (one auto, one RR) were prone to jam, and for decades, traffic traveling across the island had to deal with a ferry on the San Pedro side and a pontoon bridge on the Long Beach side that could be retracted to let shipping through.

    While extreme, I suspect this situation is far from unique.

    • Don ==> “…pumping of fluids out from under localities as a cause of subsidence.” You explain this very well. This is not the case with the subsidence in Miami Beach, however. Miami Beach’s subsidence is down to glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA), the lifting of the northern part of North America freed from its ice load, which levers the southern parts of the country downward. This effect is more pronounced further north, like at the Battery in NY.

    • Sam L. ==> More like no planning whatever — no forethought — no common sense — oblivious of the danger, I think.

  43. POSTSCRIPT:

    My thanks to all reading here. Lots of good comments, insights and questions from all of you.

    It appears that Sea Level Rise is the new “global warming” boogeyman and is being pressed into service as the latest scare tactic from the “keep ’em scared and sending money” groups.

    As always, if you have any pressing questions for me, I can be reached by email at my first name at the domain i4 decimal net.

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