FSU study says climate change will affect Florida coast, economy

A just-released Florida State University report finds that climate change will cause significant impacts on Florida’s coastlines and economy due to increased sea level rise.

“The impacts of climate change on Florida’s coasts and on our economy will be substantial, persistent and long-term, even under our conservative estimates,” said Julie Harrington, director of the Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis at FSU. “Should, as many models predict, sea level rise, and hurricane strength and other factors become more extreme, much greater economic impacts will occur along many parts of Florida’s coast in this century.”

This study uses current estimates of sea level rise from Florida State University’s Beaches and Shores Resource Center and 2001 estimates from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to evaluate the effect of sea level rise on the six coastal counties. The results show projected trends in storm-surge flood return periods associated with hurricanes, damage costs associated with flooding from major storm events, and the value and area of land at risk.

Under the FSU study’s estimates for sea level in Dade County, the value of land at risk totals $6.7 billion in 2080 (in 2005 dollars). (By comparison, using International Panel on Climate Change sea level estimates, the value of land at risk in Dade County ranges from $1 billion to $12.3 billion in 2080). The study also calculated the effect of storm surge and sea level rise on future damage costs, finding that if a storm like Hurricane Wilma from 2005 occurred in 2080, the cost to Dade alone would be from 12 percent to 31 percent higher (in 2005 constant dollars). While these findings do not account for adaptive strategies or potential future increases in property values, they still provide valuable information about potential impacts and resources that are put at risk from sea level rise.