Watch CBS News

Scientists warn South Florida coastal cities will be affected by sea level rise

Report: Sea level rising at dramatic rate
Report: Sea level rising at dramatic rate 02:56

MIAMI - Sea level rise is increasing at a dramatic rate. Scientists at the University of Miami warn that if we don't act soon, coastal cities and towns will slowly diminish.

Scientists say a few decades from now, downtown Miami will be underwater.

The tide is coming in and eventually it's not going to go back out," says Dr. Harold Wanless, a Geologist and Professor of Geography and Sustainable Development at University of Miami

"Climate change is real.  This isn't something that might happen," he says.  "The problem is, sea level is rising at an accelerating rate now because of ice melting in Greenland and Antarctica.  So for now what is just a high tide - a rare high tide.. is going to become a frequent high tide," he says.

So what does that mean for us?  According to Dr. Wanelss's research, by the year 2060, nearly 60% of Miami-Dade county will be underwater.

"Now since the ice melt started we're up to a rate of almost two feet per century," he says.

Scientists say greenhouse gases like methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide are the root of the problem.

"Carbon dioxide, that's the main one. It's the one that every time you burn oil, gas, coal, wood.. you're taking carbon that was stored in the earth and you're converting it to CO2.  Over 90% of the extra heat we've created is transferred to the ocean.  So global warming is really about warming the ocean," he explains.

Wanless say not only do we have to stop putting greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, we have to remove the gases already out there.  Otherwise, he says, our coastal paradise won't last forever.

"It's a beautiful place to live right now but it is so vulnerable," he adds.

Get Outlook for iOS

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.