The scientists have spoken. If climate change manifests itself according to predictions, Florida will soon have to abandon football in favor of water polo as a fave sport. Either that or the NFL Dolphins will have to be replaced by those seafaring porpoise cousins. And it's not a matter of if, but when.

What can't be determined is how soon before Floridians will be doing butterfly strokes during their daily commutes. Speculation depends on the rate mountainous glaciers and polar ice caps will melt, a major contributor to sea-level changes.

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According to some findings, a rise in average temperatures of three degrees Celsius will result in sea levels going up by six feet by 2100. Findings by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reveal those levels are rising by an eighth of an inch annually. If that rate is constant, it would take around 500 years to hit that six-foot increase. But changes affecting nature tend to pulsate between slower periods, usually because changing landforms add even more precarious variables to the equation in predicting the future.

At any rate, it could even be as early as 2050 when much of the Florida coastline would be underwater, depending on what the results of newer data might say. Flooding would affect Miami, Orlando, Tampa Bay and any other major center touching saltwater. That same fate awaits any coastal residence, regardless of nation or continent.

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Hurricanes Provided Future Flooding Profile

Florida's had lengthy and rather stormy experiences with hurricanes, which are taking place with alarming regularity these days. But wind devastation notwithstanding, hurricanes have actually served as previews to the sea-level flooding that lies ahead.

In particular, when Hurricane Irma blew and doused Florida with its fury in 2017, 6.5 million people had to evacuate. A category 5 storm when it ravaged the Bahamas, its downgrade to category 4 was little comfort to Miami, which suffered massive flooding due to roughly a foot of rain and 10-foot waves hitting the beach.

Hardest hit in Florida was Fort Pierce, which received 16 inches of rain. Flooding was literally everywhere, from shin-deep in some parts to submerged cars in other areas. That incident any many others in the wake of hurricanes hitting Florida is only a small picture of what type of watery future rising sea levels could bring.

Rising Sea Levels + Porous Limestone = Disaster

Because of Florida's low elevation, the state is more vulnerable to rising sea levels than most coastal areas on the globe. But Florida has another issue beneath the surface that could eventually contribute to flooding even if sea levels weren't an issue. It all has to do with the state resting on a bedrock of limestone.

This limestone is composed of compressed ancient reefs and corals with tiny air pockets galore, making them quite porous. The limestone literally soaks up any water seeping through from the Atlantic, meaning that the spongelike rock is already congested with saltwater.

That leaves floodwaters above ground with nowhere else to go. And because limestone isn't exactly a durable bedrock, it's also being compressed by what's sitting on top, including buildings. In short, that means cities like Miami are also sinking at a rate of half a millimeter annually.

That's not much, but over time and compounded by rising sea levels, those on less than solid ground are vulnerable to a double whammy.

A Foot Deep By 2050, At The Very Least

Just how bad could things be in the future? First, consider what Florida would have looked like some 18,000 years ago during the last ice age. Because most of the water was frozen in ice sheets on dry land at the time, sea levels were slightly more than 400 feet lower than what they are today. That would have yielded plenty of beachside property options if developers were around back then.

Fast forward to the start of the 20th century when sea level rose over time to about 15 inches lower than they are right now. Going forward, projections by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact indicate levels will rise by 17 inches by 2030, 39 inches (roughly a meter) by 2060, and 86 inches by 2100. But long before then, Florida coastal cities will be uninhabitable.

How Floridians Hope To Stay Dry

Because of that potential for habitability, expect an exodus of millions of Floridians from the shorelines to further inland. The compact also determined that migration would mean abandoning up to a trillion dollars worth of real estate.

In March, the state Senate established the Statewide Office of Resiliency and the Statewide Sea-Level Rise Task Force to monitor sea level rises and push for measures to protect the state from the consequences. The government also faces the possibility of spending $74 billion on building sea walls along the coast. Additional measures include adding more pumps along shorelines and building higher roads along the coast.

But that may only postpone the inevitable. And trivially, the situation might be summed up by the naming of one space shuttle that used to launch from Cape Canaveral. Was it a prophecy that prompted NASA to name one of its ships Atlantis?

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