Some of the world's largest economic hubs are faced with the inevitable reality of higher seas.
Research and analysis are needed to develop effective adaptations to preserve governance systems, infrastructure, business, supply chains, ecosystem dependencies, and personal assets.
In addition, synthesis and communication of existing knowledge and expertise is crucial to providing accurate risk assessments and timelines. We must train a new generation of experts to develop sustainable solutions to climate change impacts.
Although sea level rise represents an unprecedented threat, it also presents an opportunity for communities to make timely socioeconomic improvements that gain value over the long term.
Florida International University’s Sea Level Solutions Center is a hub for international research, collaboration, education, communication, and outreach, and a network of experts associated with this hub.
The Center provides a clear and reliable voice focused on successful adaptation in a local context that can be heard and understood by multiple public audiences as stressful conditions become more severe.
The Sea Level Solutions Center provides a toolkit for everyone – scientists, educators, city planners, businesses, citizens – looking for the latest information on sea level rise and how it will impact our communities. The SLSC brings knowledge and expertise together from a wide range of disciplines to provide information and education to diverse audiences, in a way that is accessible, relevant and applicable.
- Biscayne Bay
Project Title: Biscayne Bay Marine Health
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 and collaborative partnerships spread the word about the bay's importance to our environment and economy.
Read about the Institute's latest partnership with the Biscayne Bay Marine Health Summit Coalition.
- Climate Resilient Urban Nexus CHoices (CRUNCH)
Lead: Thomas Spiegelhalter
Project Title: Miami Climate Resilient Urban Nexus CHoices (CRUNCH)
CRUNCH is a three-year project that explores the food, water, energy nexus. It is running from 2018 - 2021 and will build an Integrated Decision Support System, which is an assessment tool for cities.
The City of Miami Beach is one of the most climate vulnerable cities on planet Earth. In the coming decades the city will have to face the challenges of sea-level rise combined with yearly threats of hurricanes, king tides, and tropical rain downpours that can dump as much as five inches of water on the city in one afternoon.
Each semester the Miami CRUNCH research team will publish a volume of work based on design scenarios that have been developed with graduate students at the Urban Living Lab in Miami Beach. The team aims to publish book volumes focusing on different ways to respond to climate impacts through sustainable architecture. In their first volume, the team looks at designing building structures that can act as hybrids sitting in, out, or under the water with the ability to be self-sustaining.
Explore Miami CRUNCH to learn more about this project.
- Coral Gables Tidal and Mangrove Sediment Elevation
Lead: Tiffany Troxler
Project Title: Coral Gables Tidal and Mangrove Sediment Elevation Study
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
- 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.
- 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.
- Florida Building Commission Project
Lead: Jayantha Obeysekera
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.
- Rainfall Workshop
Lead: Jayantha Obeysekera
Project Title: Development of Unified Rainfall Scenarios for Florida
The Sea Level Solutions Center at Florida International University was requested by the South Florida Water Management District 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 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.
- Sea-Level Rise and Wetlands
A team of Institute researchers set out to determine if and how saltwater intrusion can cause coastal wetlands to sink. Their findings demonstrate local actions can play a large role in the resilience of ecosystems to climate change. Through effective ecosystem management, wetlands could play a key role in staving off sea level rise. Read this FIU News article to learn more about this project.
Additionally, our experts have also found that the Everglades is seeing increased threats from sea level rise, like peat collapse. Our researchers are investigating how to address this challenges in an effort to protect the Everglades and, thus, incorporate wetlands in addressing the effects brought on due to climate change.
Read this AP News article to see how we are protecting our River of Grass against climate change
- 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
- Urban Water Innovation Network (U-Win)
Lead: Michael Sukop
Project 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.
- Workshop on Coastal Observation and Modeling Systems
Lead: Jayantha Obeysekera
Project Title: Workshop on Coastal Observation and Modeling Systems
The workshop is designed to discuss observations and models associated with biophysical, social-behavioral, and economic systems in vulnerable coastal regions. Specifically, the workshop will focus on understanding the interactions of biophysical, social-behavioral, and economic systems in coastal regions, explicitly defining new data gaps that can be addressed by nongovernmental, local, regional, and federal networks for the formulation of a comprehensive Coastal Observatory, and the development of interoperability requirements of data and models.
Education & Engagement Projects
- King Tide 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.
- Miami-Dade Environmental Education
Project Title: Miami-Dade County Environmental Education Grant
This project focuses on engaging with students and community members on environmental education, (including the issues, impacts and solutions related to the environment). Some of these topics may include sea-level rise and climate change, resource management (recycling and composting), water quality concerns (pollution and contamination) and other relevant and critical environmental issues.
The grant supports education and awareness initiatives in local communities, as well as in a university setting.
Find out more about the Miami-Dade County Environmental Education Grant
- Sea Level Solutions Interdisciplinary Research & Design Studio
Sea Level Solutions Interdisciplinary Research & Design Studio
This course provides an innovative and creative platform to work collaboratively across disciplines to design and produce sea level solutions that are at once functional and visionary in their approach, in addition to serving as a model for our region and beyond. Faculty from multiple FIU colleges are among instructors and will provide weekly lectures (open to the public), training and analytical tools.
The studio will pay particular attention to infrastructural solutions that are concurrently functional, aesthetic, and contextual in their design approach. Students will be expected to deliver projects that are formally resolved in macro and micro scales, and will conduct research and analysis, site investigation, mapping and interpretation of the existing context. They will carry out studies aimed at exposing important site qualities and relationships. Ideas will be discussed in the form of desk crits and formal reviews, with special emphasis on frequent, in-class pinups and interdisciplinary group work.
View the below video to learn more about that course:
- Public Education and Outreach - Communicating Sea-Level Solutions
Project 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.
- 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 data 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, looking at 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.
Read more about the project and access the publication in this FIU News article
- Sea-Level Rise and Projected Impacts of Urban Flooding
Project 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
Project 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.
- Sustainable Communities and Transportation Planning
Project 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
Project 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 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.