Florida’s Climate Crisis and Sea Level Rise Non Sequitur

The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming! (1966)

Guest crisis-bashing by David Middleton

Florida faces a climate crisis as Democratic candidates take the debate stage

By Drew Kann, CNN

Wed June 26, 2019

(CNN)Presidential candidate Jay Inslee was not happy when the Democratic National Committee shot down his request to hold a climate crisis-focused debate.

[Blah, blah, blah]

…the global climate emergency

[Blah, blah, blah]

The debates are being held in Miami, one of the major cities most vulnerable to the effects of the climate crisis.

[Blah, blah, blah]

Unlike in past primaries, many Democratic contenders are treating the climate crisis as a major campaign issue.

Inslee’s entire campaign is built around taking on the climate crisis

[Blah, blah, blah]

Many leading Democrats have said they support the Green New Deal, an ambitious and sweeping set of policy proposals to address climate change…

[Blah, blah, blah]

But for Floridians who will be tuned into the debates, the effects of this climate emergency

[Blah, blah, blah]

CNN

And now for the non sequitur

All of Miami Beach is low-lying, but parts are just a foot or two above sea level, making it prone to flooding during storms and extreme high tides, according to Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales. Add the estimated 9 inches that sea levels have risen in the region in the past 100 years, and you have a recipe for costly flooding.

Then there is the problem of the very ground on which Miami Beach and much of South Florida sits.

Made from the remnants of ancient coral reefs, the porous limestone beneath the region is not unlike Swiss cheese, with natural underground “pipes” that allow water to bubble up to the surface, according to Jayantha Obeysekera, director of Florida International University’s Sea Level Rise Solutions Center.

This geology, combined with sea level rise, has left parts of Miami Beach, Miami and other parts of South Florida dealing with flooding — even on days when there is no rain in the forecast.

CNN

The nature of Florida’s geology does not follow from the climate crisis myth… Nor does the climate crisis myth follow from the nature of Florida’s geology.

The bedrock in parts of Florida is “made from the remnants of ancient coral reefs” because, not so long ago, it was underwater, when sea level was 1-2m higher than it is today. There are also “remnants of ancient coral reefs” outboard and in much deeper water than modern coral reefs, because, also not so long ago, sea level was about 100m lower than it is today. This called glacioeustasy. It’s what sea level does during ice ages. We are fortunate to be living in an interglacial stage of an ice age.

Sea level isn’t doing anything now that it hasn’t been doing for the past 200 years…

Figure 1. Sea level reconstruction from tide gauge data (Jevrejeva et al., 2014). Note rock pick added for scale.

Or 7,000 years…

Figure 2. Global last 7,000 years, error bars omitted. (Brock et al., 2008)

Or 12,000 years…

Figure 3. Global since Younger Dryas. Note the error bar is ±12 meters. (Siddall et al., 2003)

Or 800,000 years…

Figure 4. Late Pleistocene sea level, older is toward the right.. (Spratt & Lisiecki, 2016)

To the extent sea level rise (SLR) may have “accelerated” since 1993, it’s just back to doing what it was doing in the mid-20th century.

Figure 5. Jevrejeva et al., 2014 exhibits alternating periods of fast (~3 mm/yr) and slow (~1 mm/yr) of sea level rise.

Florida’s flooding “crisis” is the nature of its geology. This has been the effect of rising sea level…

Figure 7. Miami Beach topographic maps for 1950 and 1994. Note that the 5′ elevation contour has not shifted (USGS).
Figure 8. Miami Beach, Florida topographic maps for 1994 and 2012. The 2012 map has no 5′ contour because it has a 10′ contour interval. However, it is abundantly obvious that Florida is not being inundated.

Dean Wormer, how much inundation of the Florida coastline has occurred?

Here’s a topographic profile to demonstrate the effects of 14cm of sea level rise on the Miami Beach area…

Figure 9. Topographic profile A-A’. The NOAA sea level trend has been plotted at.the same vertical scale.

And on to bad science fiction…

Miami Beach is spending $500 million to address the most vulnerable parts of the city by raising roads and installing pump stations to shore up flood-prone areas.

Miami voters passed a $400 million bond measure, of which nearly $200 million will go toward solutions for sea level rise and flood prevention.

But those millions will fund only a fraction of the work that needs to be done, with sea levels projected to rise as much as 6 feet by 2100.

[Blah, blah, blah]

CNN

It is physically impossible for global sea level to even rise by as much as 3 feet over the next 80 years…

Figure 6. Projected sea level rise through 2100 AD.

And please don’t babble about Meltwater Pulse 1a or Marine Ice Cliff Instability.

Mr. Kann spends the rest of the article prattling about “red tides, septic tanks and hurricanes.” His scientific qualifications consist of a BA in magazines, an MS in journalism, about 10 years of experience as a video producer and his apparent woke-ness.

References

Brock, J.C.,  M. Palaseanu-Lovejoy, C.W. Wright, & A. Nayegandhi. (2008). “Patch-reef morphology as a proxy for Holocene sea-level variability, Northern Florida Keys, USA”. Coral Reefs. 27. 555-568. 10.1007/s00338-008-0370-y. 

Jevrejeva, S. , J.C. Moore, A. Grinsted, A.P. Matthews, G. Spada. 2014.  “Trends and acceleration in global and regional sea levels since 1807”.  Global and Planetary Change. %vol 113, 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2013.12.004 https://www.psmsl.org/products/reconstructions/jevrejevaetal2014.php

Siddall M, Rohling EJ, Almogi-Labin A, Hemleben C, Meischner D, Scmelzer I, Smeed DA (2003). “Sea-level fluctuations during the last glacial cycle”. Nature 423:853–858 LINK

Spratt, R. M. and Lisiecki, L. E.: “A Late Pleistocene sea level stack”. Clim. Past, 12, 1079-1092, https://doi.org/10.5194/cp-12-1079-2016, 2016.

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65 thoughts on “Florida’s Climate Crisis and Sea Level Rise Non Sequitur

  1. The entire dopacrapic debate could be summarized by:

    blah, blah, blah…
    blah?
    BLAH! (applause) blah,blah,blah…..(cheering)

    • The debate was remarkably similar to 2016 presidential debates in one respect: there is exactly one guy on stage who appeared to be sincere. (His opponents didn’t bother to hide their own disbelieve in the ideas they were promoted).

      Unfortunately, the guy declared total war on virtually every industry:
      “We must stand to Wall Street”
      “We must annihilate Fossil Fuels”
      “We must take on Pharmaceuticals”

      • The only candidate who made honest promises and is actively working to keep those promises is President Trump.

        President Trump is bringing business back, especially businesses on Main Street; snatching cheap import business away from Wall Street Globalists. A tactic that is bringing industry back to America.

        President Trump has actively promoted fossil fuels and re-energized the fossil fuel industry.

        President Trump’s take on pharmaceuticals is that Americans pay the highest drug costs in the world; President Trump is actively working to remove the price supports, hidden costs and hidden price structures.

        Not one other candidate for the 2016 Presidential election made realistic promises, nor made promises they intended to keep.

    • Unlike in past primaries, many Democratic contenders are treating the climate crisis as a major campaign issue.

      They have spent the last 4 years bitching about the election result and trying to blame the Russians. Now the arse has fallen out of that claim, they suddenly realise they have another election to fight and have no policy to stand on.

  2. A quote from presidential debate 2020:

    “Mr President, you said you do not believe in climate change?”

    “Tell me more about the climate: how much do you believe the climate has changed so far? Is it that much or that much?” (Shows a inch, then two of a distance between the thumb and the index finger.

  3. Aquifer extraction and subsequent subsidence is many times more intense and entirely man-made.

  4. Doesn’t the weight of those highrises on the beaches of Miami have something to do with subsidence, if there is any?

    And why would ANYONE with a working brain build big buildings on what is essential a flood plain, in the first place?

    • The Highrises shouldn’t have any direct effect on the beaches as they would be anchored into bedrock at their respective foundations. They shouldn’t place any downward perssure on the beach but would on the bedrock below. The average weight for a typical 50 story highrise is in the neighborhood of 250,000 tons or roughly 3,333,333cu ft. or a boulder 100′ thich and roughly the size of a football field.

    • “Bedrock” is a relative term… In southeast Florida, its the ancient coral reefs they are calling “bedrock”. Most people think of bedrock as granite, but its actually whatever is down under a spot that provides enough strength to build large heavy buildings on.

      https://pubs.usgs.gov/pp/2007/1751/professional-paper/geologic-setting.html

      This limestone is very porous and is being dissolved by slightly acidic water as we speak, but you can build on it. Here are some stats from building a skyscraper in Miami:

      ““Now, construction on-site continues at a steady pace, and we look forward to delivering Panorama Tower, a global landmark development of which the City of Miami and its residents will be very proud,” he added.Some 14,677 cubic yards of cement were poured for the foundation.Additional details of the main mat pour at Panorama Tower include: 584 auger cast piles as deep as 120 feet totaled 16 miles in length; over 3,500 tons of reinforcing steel installed (enough to make almost 4,000 Volkswagen Beatles); 13.5 million pounds of cement; 15.3 million pounds of sand; 25.8 million pounds of rock; 495,000 gallons of water; and six concrete pumps running continuously, averaging almost 100 cubic yards per hour.”

      So the pilings are poured up to to 120 feet into the limestone bedrock. They would have already tested (likely seismic) for voids.

      In theory, the bedrock is a massive rigid rock formation and because it is so heavy, will not move just because you build a tiny 87 story skyscraper on it. You should not get subsidence from bedrock. You need a pliable layer of clay, salt (any salt not just sodium chloride), soil, silt, or something like that to get subsidence from pulling out water and oil from the ground (although you can increase the rate of sink hole collapse in limestone bedrock). For example, oil is often trapped under a layer of salt (called a salt dome) and if you pump it and the water out the ground, the area above will start sinking as the salt moves into the low pressure area you create.

      • The bed rock I grew up with was indeed granite, it was about 150 ft. down. I grew up in northwestern Minnesota, down in the north eastern Minnesota it may be on the surface.

      • A couple points about high rise foundations in South Florida:

        The foundation goes deep not necessarily to get to more competent bedrock that is better able to bear the deadweight of the building and its contents. Very tall relatively thin high rise buildings also impose potentially heavy variable lateral loads on their foundations due to work wind forces and earthquake accelerations.

        South Florida is not seismically active compared to California, but our wind loads are literally the highest in the entire world due to hurricanes. Even for low rise structures, the design wind speeds here are upwards of 180 mph … and those speeds climb dramatically with elevation. Many of the newer towers in Miami Beach reach up to 70 or more stories, with total building heights upwards of 900 feet.

        So a pier foundation that is 120 feet deep is really not a lot considering it restrains a 800 to 900 foot tall lever resisting 200+ mph winds.

        Also keep in mind that wind forces increase as the square of the increase in wind velocity … plus there is also a harmonic dynamic component that potentially adds even more than the static wind force component (re: the “galloping Gerty” bridge failure many decades ago in Washington State).

    • “And why would ANYONE with a working brain build big buildings on what is essential a flood plain, in the first place?”

      to make a profit from THEIR resources and labor.

  5. Of course, the other factor not mentioned by the climate alarmists, or even by the author of this post, is that Miami Beach is not a natural beach anyway – there was a tiny sliver of very low lying sandspit about 120 years ago .. and when all those channels were dredged in Biscayne Bay, including “Government Cut” and the Intracoastal Waterway, all that dredge spoil was pumped up on that tiny sliver of a sand spit to make … ta da! Miami Beach.

    Virtually ALL of Florida’s beaches require frequent renourishment (at least every two to four years) to keep them from washing away due to – not SLR – normal storms, currents, wind and waves, and other normal erosional processes. Each such renourishment project dumps anywhere from two to four feet of new sand on the beach. Tourist bed tax dollars pay for that cost.

    That those pioneers of coastal dredging did not think to make Miami Beach a few feet higher, and thus plan ahead for several centuries of sea level rise to come .. well, what do you expect? That was the beginning of the 20th century.

    However, do not weep for Miami Beach, which still has some of the most expensive real estate in North America … all those condo towers they’ve been building for the last quarter century are all set up high on fill with first floor elevations such as to deal with not only sea level rise but also 16 foot hurricane storm surges. Those buildings won’t be flooding any time during their projected lifetime. And as for the rest, again, it’ll still be at least another couple of centuries at current SLR before those old pre-code buildings, if they still exist then (which is doubful in the extreme) have to worry about flooding.

    • More or less the case for most barrier islands. Without dredging and replenishing beach sand, these islands would have not stayed where they are. If I remember correctly, one of the fortifications at Ft. Pickens, near Pensacola, is now on the opposite side of the barrier island from where it was built.

      • There is also the problem of forts being built near the end of the barrier to shell the inlet. Ends move around a lot, jetties help. Fort Livingston on the west end of Grande Terre has been surrounded by rocks to protect it. To the E the state Marine Lab is going into the water like much of the western part of Dauphin Island. Across the unjettied inlet from the fort is Grande Isle which I have read is rotating, forget which way. I have lived and worked on several and known geologists working on their processes; barrier Islands are long term uninhabitable places, kept by great fossil fuel subsidies.

        • True, as I’ve seen them. I’ve been there. Dauphin Island was split by a recent hurricane (Katrina?). I have not been back, someways sadly, in years. Also look at Spanish Fort, while you are at it. East side of Mobile Bay is actually fairly elevated over the Bay. West side, not so much. The headwaters are the confluence of the Mobile, Tensaw, and Middle Rivers. They finished the Interstate 65 bridges in the late 70s or early 80s, if I am remembering correctly. Interstate 10 has a short tunnel and bridges, too. There was some worry in 1979, when Frederic came through, about flooding in that tunnel. I don’t remember if that fear was realized.

    • If you look at the 1994 topo map, you can see where the beach has been “built out” since 1950.

    • Duane, the golf club used to be a lake…and the ponds on the course still go up and down with the tide

    • One of the prime reasons for beach erosion in Florida is high rise buildings on the beach that change the wind flow patterns which in turn change the shoreline currents. Instead of coming on shore with little side drift, the high rises create a severe sweeping current along the shore. In places where I live where there are no beach side high rises, Manasota Beach and Nokomis Beach, there is never a need for replenishment even after strong storms. Any erosion is naturally replaced by wave action.

  6. Is not Miami soil being compressed by the structures and the land level sinking?

  7. When my corporate department was building stores in Florida about 25 years ago I visited one of our construction sites and in a discussion with one of my field engineers we got into the issue of ground water. It was two or three feet below the surface, as I recall, in that particular area but the surface showed no evidence of such. Not at all like the “sub irrigated” land we can into in some of the mountain states, which we in the Midwest called marsh or wetlands with cattail growing on it. Makes a difference in what type of foundation one uses. Or if one builds there at all!

    • As a matter of fact sea-level rise in southern Florida is less than almost anywhere else on the east/south coast, perhaps because it lies outside the “forebulge zone” of the Laurentide ice so there is less glacial isostasy. Here is the data for Key West which has the longest time series (2.4 +- 0.1 mm/yr):

      https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends_station.shtml?id=8724580

      Florida is also a very good example of a “carbonate platform”, which tend to be tectonically stable, or perhaps more correctly, large carbonate platforms only develop in tectonically stable areas.

      • tty

        I think I told it often enough: I’m not interested in single corners, let alone in single gauges.

        Please look at your own home castle, and imagine somebody inspecting your corner in the Baltic sea, and thinking that the trends below

        203 1916 2017 102 FURUOGRUND -79.289 (in mm/decade)
        88 1892 2017 126 RATAN -77.219
        57 1883 2017 135 VAASA / VASA -76.098
        240 1922 2017 96 RAAHE / BRAHESTAD -73.785
        194 1914 2017 104 PIETARSAARI / JAKOBSTAD -72.146
        229 1920 2017 98 KEMI -70.340
        79 1889 2017 129 OULU / ULEABORG -66.971
        285 1926 2017 92 KASKINEN / KASKO -64.463
        1211 1968 2017 50 SPIKARNA -60.640
        172 1910 2017 108 MANTYLUOTO -58.487
        376 1933 2017 85 RAUMA / RAUMO -45.152
        249 1923 2017 95 FOGLO / DEGERBY -38.933

        perfectly depict the world’s average tide gauge behavior!

        • Bindidon, the comments being addressed were about sea level rise affecting Florida. Florida was not used to represent the global average. Baltic Sea gauges contaminated by isostatic rebound are not relevant.

      • tty
        Thanks for your convenient replies showing real experience in the field.

        When you ask: “By the way, just how did you correct your tidal gauges for land movements?”, I can only reply in turn that this was not at all my job as a layman: it is that of real experts in the field, e.g. those writing about

        https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/glacial-adjustment.html

        My interest was focusing on two comparisons of a layman’s global evaluation of the raw tide gauge data provided by PMSL with that of professionals, namely
        – one with satellite data for the period1993-now:
        https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rzU5uoo-JFQoFOvKFQfDQliS5P0-VeCC/view

        and
        – one with Church and White’s evaluation fore 1880-2013:
        https://drive.google.com/file/d/1j19zb3l3i0USePl1vebhQclK2Qee-w8S/view

        I simply wanted to see how what one does at home as a hobby behaves in comparison with hard scientific work.

        *
        A little funny addendum for the Scandinavian commenter tty:
        https://drive.google.com/file/d/1yX4Bw0TOewq4Hpj_MYz71Rlz2bJh7yKh/view

        It was amazing for me to see how similar the running means are here when extending the focus of observation from one Swedish station up to Sweden, and then to Northern Europe from Ireland to the Baltic Sea via Norway, the Netherlands, Germany etc.

        But somewhere the similarity must end, n’est-ce pas?
        https://drive.google.com/file/d/1cuLaDBem-Giaa6L0j1OYUWknNcEbxt8j/view

      • David Middleton, and by extension: beng135

        No, Mr Middleton: you didn’t.

        If you had done, you would have integrated Church & White’s research and results into your “entire” post, and would have accurately compared their data with that of Jevrejeva you seem to have intentionally preferred.

        No problem for me!

        • Good fracking grief! This is what I was replying to…

          David Middleton

          You can tell us all you want: sea level rising indeed is tiny, is exaggerated by stupid politicians, but it nevertheless exists.

          That’s exactly what the post did. I demonstrated that “sea level rising indeed is tiny, is exaggerated by stupid politicians, but it nevertheless exists.” It’s also exaggerated by stupid journalists in non sequitur fallacies.

          The post had nothing to to with comparing different sea level reconstructions…

          It is easy for anybody having some experience to download data sets, and to process and compare them

          In case you missed it, the title of the post is: “Florida’s Climate Crisis and Sea Level Rise Non Sequitur”… What in the frack would a comparison of Church & White to Jevrejeva have to do with this post?

        • Here you go…

          Church & White botched most of the 20th century and don’t go back far enough to cover the tail end of Neoglaciation… pretty well useless.

          • Thanks for this somewhat hard and superficial evaluation of C&W’s work… I can only hope that your scientific education and experience in the field really allow you to choose such arrogant wording.

            Rgds
            J.-P. D.

  8. If not for the South Florida water management district canal system , most of South Florida would be uninhabitable .With the exception of a natural , narrow band of elevated “Pine land ” limestone rock lying just West of the Eastern coastal Mangrove Forest , the rest of what lies West, is Everglades .So most of us here in Meeahmee, or Myahmah if your prefer, have been sinking , or treading water from the get go .

  9. Kip, late arriving but a bravo essay for two reasons.

    Firat, as an ardent long term amateur rockhound, my trusty Eastwing is much more battered than yours. And has probably found more Dahlonega Ga and Washington (state) alluvial plus Colorado (vein) gold, Maine tourmaline, Michigan UP copper/ silver, and North Carolina metamorphics like emerald, ruby, rutile, and staraulite ‘fairy crosses’ than your professional one.

    Second, your SLR analyses are spot on. I posted something similar (but much less geologically sophisticated) about Miami Beach some years ago here.

      • Dave ==> Not mine….though I had one when I was a rockhounding kid in the American Southwest. I fear it has been lost in antiquity….

        • Some day, I’ll tell the story about how I melted the tip off my first Estwing in a drunken college Thor impersonation stunt… 🤣

          • Might take is that the rock hammer was bigger when he started chipping away at the prison walls… (rim shot) and it definitely wasn’t an Estwing…

  10. David,
    “… his apparent woke-ness.”

    Should that be ‘born-again woke-ness?’ (i.e. epiphany)

  11. True statement:

    Florida State employs quite a few real scientists who can do real math and real computer models, may have 2 or 3 doctorate degrees and their funding isn’t based on adding “and the affects of global warming on them” to the end of their papers.

    The State of Florida banned state employees from discussing warmerism while at work or on state property (so at lunch, break, on forums from work etc). Florida is NOT a warmist state. We’ve got a pretty solid bead on how math works.

    Many of the contracting industries in Florida also use a single-payer system for insurance claims!

    So don’t presume that Florida is stupid when it isn’t outside.

    • Prjindigo it will just take a Dem governor for all of that to change at the state level. Rick Scott won’t be there forever.

      Outside of his appointments, it sure seems to be turning into a “warmist state” to me.

      Maybe you missed this one from earlier in the week https://www.tampabay.com/breaking-news/florida-newsrooms-band-together-to-cover-the-effects-of-climate-change-20190625/

      Way too many Floridians want to blame red tide on climate change. Ditto for the cyanobacteria (so-called “blue-green algae”). And hurricanes.

      Many Florida water utilities are requiring climate change (e.g., sea level rise projections, extreme rainfall events, droughts) to be accounted for in project planning and design. I was at a presentation done by Tampa Bay Water’s chief scientist 3-4 yrs ago that suggested west central Florida could receive millions of climate refugees this century from Miami/Ft Lauderdale as sea levels rose. Pinellas County, Jacksonville, Sarasota, and especially Miami-Dade are aggressively targeting “resiliency” which is almost 100% associated with climate change policies.

      • Rick Scott is not the Governor of Florida any longer. Ron DeSantis is and he is doing an excellent job so far. Rick Scott is now U. S. Senator from Florida.

  12. Having been born and raised on the east coast and having observed tidal water levels, I will without hesitation say that the sea level where I was born is the same today as it was over 75 years ago.

    • old white guy

      When you look at

      https://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/sltrends/sltrends.html

      you immediately see that sea level rise actually isn’t worth a long comment. The vast majority of gauge indeed looks imperceptible in raise.

      I think that like so many people, you miss the major point: how can make valuable predictions be done such that insurance and reinsurance firms can compute to what extent
      – their contributions will be in 50 till 100 years;
      and therefore
      – how high these companies have to set – right now, please – their insurance premium increases to cover their costs over the long term.

      Years ago I had by accident a talk with a project leader at Munich Re. Since then I understand a few things a little better.

    • Actually it isn’t. I should guess that it is about 6-8 inches higher, though local effects might make it unnoticeable.

      As a matter of fact you only have to take a look at a map of US to see that the coast from Cape Cod south to Mexico is sinking. It has all the typical morphological characteristics of a sinking coast, barrier islands, salt marshes, rias (flooded river valleys, like Chesapeake Bay).
      From about Boston northwards on the other hand it is an equally typical rising coast, rocky, scoured beaches, a very indented coastline clearly showing the “grain” of the geology, a lot of bays and inlets gradually turning into freshwater lakes. Living on the Baltic as I do I recognize the signs.

      By the way, where I live the relative sea-level sinks about 1.5 mm/yr, and I do notice the difference it has made over half a century, but only because I am interested in the phenomenon and have been watching it. On the other hand up in the Bothnian Gulf where the land rises up to 9 mm/yr it is very noticeable, and people have always been aware of it. But then Luleå church that was built on the seashore in the 15th century is now about 6 miles inland (admittedly in very flat area).

  13. Miami-Dade is permitted to withdraw something like 400 million gallons per day of groundwater to treat and serve its customers. After it gets used and treated, it gets pumped out into the Atlantic. One reason for subsidence issues.

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