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Our research efforts are organized around projects taking place throughout South Florida and beyond. Projects focus on expanding scientific knowledge and making a difference in communities.

Nature & Society

  • Digital Commons - Sea Level Rise

    A collection of publications, reports, presentations and research on sea level rise. This collection comprises research from various faculty and departments throughout FIU and is part of FIU's Sea Level Rise research initiative. 

    Visit FIU Digital Commons - Sea Level Rise

  • Effects of Projected Sea-Level Rise

    Project Title: Effects of Projected Sea-Level Rise on Everglades Coastal Ecosystems

    This study identifies potential mechanisms for how salinity and saltwater inundation contribute to peat loss in freshwater and brackish wetlands, which can be used to inform Everglades and South Florida water management decision and more broadly inform ecosystem management of coastal landscapes worldwide. The outcome of the study will have immediate application to water and environmental management needs, and has been designed with end-users (e.g., SFWMD) to ensure that information will be readily accessible to water managers and decision makers. This project will continue to increase our understanding of the net effect of increased salinity and inundation specifically examining the effects of chronic and acute saltwater intrusion events on Everglades coastal peat communities.

    Learn more about the effects of projected sea-level rise on Everglades coastal ecosystems.

  • Florida Building Commission Project

    Project Title: Potential Implications of Sea-Level Rise and Changing Rainfall for Communities in Florida using Miami-Dade County as a Case Study

    The overall effort to assess flood risk may be accomplished by comparing existing flood elevations with new elevations based on updated rainfall data and sea-level rise projections. For the contract, SLSC evaluated groundwater level due to sea-level rise and changes in extreme rainfall in Miami-Dade County and potential implications for the current Florida Building Code (FBC).

    View the Final Report

  • Rainfall Workshop

    The Sea Level Solutions Center (SLSC) at Florida International University (FIU) was requested by the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to help develop a set of well-defined future climatic scenarios for various planning efforts underway. Such efforts include, but are not limited to, the Florida Protection Level of Service (FPLOS) program, Water Supply Planning, and CERP Planning/Everglades Restoration.  As a first step in this process, FIU organized a workshop on May 16, 2019 to be attended by a selected group of experts in the field and representatives of various agencies, governments, and private sector.

    Explore the rainfall workshop

  • Urban Water Innovation Network (U-Win)

    Lead: Michael Sukop

    Title: Transitioning Toward Sustainable Water Systems

    The Urban Water Innovation Network, a consortium of academic institutions and key partners across the U.S., include research, engagement and educational programs that address challenges that threaten urban water systems. The mission of UWIN is to create technological, institutional and management solutions to help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises.

    National Science Foundation. November 2015 - October 2020

    Learn more about U-WIN 

  • Urban Resilience to Extremes Sustainability Research Network

    The UREx SRN focuses on integrating social, ecological and technical systems to devise, analyze and support urban infrastructure decisions in the face of climate uncertainty. It leverages a network of nine, diverse cities, a network of 65 experts, a holistic conceptual framework, inclusive, participatory approaches, a workflow, education program and an evaluation plan that produces results and continually learning. The central question we are addressing is: How do social, ecological and technological systems (SETS) domains interact to generate vulnerability or resilience to climate-related extreme events and how can urban SETS dynamics be guided along more resilient, equitable and sustainable trajectories? 

    Learn more about UREx SRN

  • Marine Research Hub of South Florida Consortium

    Our mission is to raise the visibility, reputation and prestige of the region's oceanographic research institutions. Our objective is to establish South Florida as a global leader in oceanographic research. By fostering collaboration between research, education, business and economic development organizations, we are working to make a positive impact on the health of oceans while bringing substantial benefits to our global population.

    Learn more about the Marine Research Hub of South Florida Consortium

Past Projects

  • Public Education and Outreach

    Title: Communicating Sea Level Solutions

    Robert Gutsche, Susan Jacobson, Kate MacMillin and Juliet Pinto of FIU won Eyes on the Rise: Sea Level Rise South Florida in 2014-2015. Their project entitled “Sea Level Rise South Florida: How Are Waters Affecting You?” presented ways of communicating sea level solutions while building community awareness and inspiring action.

  • Sea Level Rise and Projected Impacts

    Title: Predicting Urban Flooding

    GIS Coordinator, Pete Harlem, mapped sea level rise in South Florida which predict urban flooding patterns. Ivan D. Haigh, Thomas Wahl, Eelco J. Rohling, Rene M. Price, Charitha B. Pattiarachi, Francisco M. Calafat and Snoke Dangendorf are creating timescales to detect a significant acceleration in sea level rise. Through their findings, they will know if sea level in 2100 will increase by 1.5-2m (by 2020) and 0.5-1 (by 2030).

  • Stabilize and Protect South Florida

    Title: Stabilize and Protect South Florida Archeological Sites with Integrated Ecosystem Restoration

    Cultural resource sites are found throughout South Florida in a variety of environmental settings. These sites date to both colonial and pre-colonial times and are mostly found in close proximity to the coastline or are embedded in surrounding wetlands. As a consequence, these sites are vulnerable to the effects of accelerating sea level rise and anthropogenic climate change that will bring higher tides, more frequent strong hurricanes and increased erosion.

    Learn more about Everglades archaeological heritage

  • Sustainable Communities and Transportation Planning

    Title: Designing a Resilient City

    The project looks at the city, neighborhood and building scale. It won the Florida Foundation for Architecture Award as well as the Provost’s Award for Outstanding Creative Project and the A|A Miami Design Awards. The project was exhibited at the Coral Gables Museum in 2014, Miami Beach Urban Studios in 2013 and the Association of Climate Change Officers in 2013.

    For more information, please visit the CARTA Climate Change Studio.

  • Water Supply, Management and Infrastructure

    Title: Measuring Impacts of Flood Mitigation on Water Quality

    Measuring the impacts of flood mitigan on water quality has been one priority. There have been routine assessments of the effects of urban flooding on water quality in Marine Protected Areas. Henry Briceño of the School of Environment, Arts and Society examined the King Tide Day in 2014 at Miami Beach. The regulated total nutrients (TP, TN) and CHLa were within range, but dissolved nutrients, SRP and DIN were up to six times the historic averages concentration.

Ecosystems

  • Biscayne Bay

    The Biscayne Bay Health initiative unites Institute of Environment faculty with local governments and organizations to help protect and preserve Biscayne Bay. An annual summit will spread the word about the bay's importance to our environment and economy.

  • Coral Gables Tidal and Mangrove Sediment Elevation

    Coastal wetlands provide essential direct livelihood services to millions of people, as well as critical regulating services such as maintenance of water quality, protection from storms and erosion and carbon sequestration. Measuring the vertical movement of the coastal wetland surface and its constituent processes and relative local sea-level is necessary to determine whether a wetland can keep pace with SLR.

    Learn more about the Coral Gables Tidal and Mangrove Sediment Elevation Study

  • Seagrass Ecosystems Research

    Our seagrass scientists actively collaborate across departments and research centers to improve our research and methodology, not only within FIU but throughout the U.S. and around the world. At SERL, we recognize that seagrass science is a global and cross-disciplinary endeavor, and we strive for strong communication and collaboration within our research community.

    Learn more about the Seagrass Ecosystems Research Laboratory.

Past Projects

  • Saltwater Intrusion into the Everglades

    Scientists found that reduced freshwater delivery to the Everglades is increasing salinity in drinking water wells through their study analyzing from 2003-2012. Researchers examined sea level rise and South Florida coastal forests and found new evidence of the collapse of peat soil. In their study on 50 years of coastal vegetation change, scientists found that sawgrass marshes in Everglades National Park is at risk of peat collapse. Additionally, they discovered that mangroves are displacing sawgrass marsh at rates up to 10 km per 50 years. They have conducted experiments to determine the consequences of SLR to marshes.

Organisms & Evolution

  • Global FinPrint

    We unite researchers and collaborators from around the world to study sharks, rays and other marine life on coral reefs using baited remote underwater video surveys (BRUVs). Our goal is to assess coral reef sharks and rays, understand how they affect these vanishing ecosystems, and inform emerging conservation actions. 

    Learn more about Global FinPrint

Engagement

  • Aquarius Academy

    Based on the work conducted at Aquarius Reef Base, we let students and teachers be a part of real-world science through activity-based lessons and unique experiential opportunities. 

    Explore Aquarius Academy

  • Aquarius Interactive

    Splash down to Conch Reef and take a virtual tour of the Aquarius undersea lab, the life support buoy and adjacent coral reefs – all without getting wet.  

    View Aquarius Interactive

  • Florida Keys & Me

    Being a student in the Florida Keys means being surrounded by Everglades National Park, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Florida Bay. In other words, there is no shortage of nature, outdoor activities or diverse ecosystems. Learning to live in balance with these fragile habitats so that the resources they provide will continue to flourish is a big part of living in the Florida Keys, requiring a more in-depth approach to outdoor activities.

    Through three different citizen science platforms, students collect data at a site that will contribute to their knowledge of the natural world, their desire to be involved and their ability to take charge. Projects within the Florida Keys & Me program are grade-specific (3-12).

    The topics and citizen science projects are:

    • Marine Debris (Grades 3-5): Scientific beach clean-ups using the NOAA Marine Debris collection platform (Location depending on day of field lab, normally Plantation Key Hammock Preserve)
    • Water Quality (Grades 6-8): Water quality testing using the Florida Keys Water Watch and Microplastic Awareness Project platforms (Green Turtle Hammock Preserve)
    • Species Identification (Grades 9-12): Biodiversity tracking, species list creation and invasive species removal using the iNaturalist application (Green Turtle Hammock Preserve)


    Programs are grade-specific but can altered on request for different grade levels. All field labs take place in Islamorada in collaboration with the City of Islamorada. Field labs are available for up to 30 students at a time.

    If you are interested in this field lab, please contact Analisa Duran.

    The program is grant funded through May of 2020.

  • NOAA Planet Stewards: No Debris for Me!

    The goal of this program is to educate students on what marine debris is, the impacts it has on the environment and what they can do in their community to combat the issue. This program is funded by the NOAA Planet Stewards Program and is free for fifth-grade Title I schools. Field labs are for up to 30 students per program.

    The program is be completed over a month includes:

    • Outreach to your class about marine debris
    • Bus costs and field lab to conduct a scientific shoreline cleanup
    • Follow-up lesson plans correlated to the Florida Standards of Education and the Next Generation Science Standards


    If you are interested in this program, please contact Analisa Duran.

    The program is grant funded through May of 2020.

  • Ocean Life Public Seminar Series

    The Ocean Life series brings renowned researchers and academics to the Keys to educate, entertain and inspire audiences of all ages. Hosted by our Center for Coastal Oceans Research and the Friends of the Key Largo Cultural Center, the series features interdisciplinary experts from FIU and the Keys. 

    Browse upcoming and past Ocean Life lectures

  • Sea Level Solutions Center Citizen Science

    Seasonal King Tides (the highest of the high tides) have been causing flooding in our Miami community. SLSC, in collaboration with several partners, hosts yearly volunteer events to collect sea level rise data through flood reporting. 

    Explore SLSC citizen science opportunities