Scientists say Miami could cease to exist in our children’s lifetime

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Scientists speaking with New York magazine said Miami would disappear underwater within the century if sea-level rise persists.
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Shutterstock

Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful Atlantic storms in recorded history, is expected to bear down on South Florida over the weekend. Miami could be the city hit hardest.

The link between climate change and this year’s catastrophic hurricane activity is uncertain, but scientists say the rising temperature of ocean water makes storms like Irma stronger.

Miami, a city of 430,000 people, could disappear within the century if the worst climate-change predictions come true.

In July, New York magazine’s David Wallace-Wells spoke with dozens of climatologists and researchers for an investigation into the outcomes of climate change if aggressive preventative action isn’t taken. The results were not pretty.

“Most people talk as if Miami and Bangladesh still have a chance of surviving; most of the scientists I spoke with assume we’ll lose them within the century, even if we stop burning fossil fuel in the next decade,” Wallace-Wells wrote.

The average elevation of Miami, at the mouth of the Miami River on the lower east coast of Florida, is about 6 feet above sea level, according to CityData.com and NASA. South Florida anticipates a 2-foot increase in the sea level by 2060.

Within the century, a combination of polar melting, carbon emissions, and ice-sheet collapses could cause chronic flooding to wipe out Miami – and, according to National Geographic, as many as 670 coastal communities, including Cambridge, Massachusetts; Oakland, California; St. Petersburg, Florida; and four of the five boroughs of New York City.

In January, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hinted at the possibility of an “extreme” sea-level-rise scenario that would support these predictions.

The research group Climate Central took the projections laid out in NOAA’s report and created a plug-in for Google Earth that shows how catastrophic the damage would be anywhere in the US if the flooding happened today.

Here’s what Miami may look like in 2100:


This is what Miami Beach looks like today.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

In the year 2100, you might need a rowboat to pass through it.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Climate Central’s plug-in for Google Earth shows a sea-level rise of 10 to 12 feet, which would cause the Atlantic Ocean to wash over Miami and the Miami River to overflow.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Everyone who lives in Miami would need to evacuate long before.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

In Miami-Dade County, 1.6 million square feet of office space and 1.8 million square feet of retail space was under construction in the second quarter of 2016, the BBC reported.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Source: BBC


Those high-rises could have a different kind of ocean view by the end of the century.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

Marlins Park may have a retractable roof, but that won’t save it from sea-level rise.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

The Miami Marlins will require a name change.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

The University of Miami, located south of downtown Miami in Coral Gables, hosts more than 16,000 students from around the world.

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Google Earth/Climate Central

That could change.

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Google Earth/Climate Central