Florida is extremely vulnerable to impacts of climate change that threaten the state’s agriculture, energy and tourism industries
- Modern annual average (1986–2016) temperature in the Southeast is 0.46°F warmer than it was in the first half of the last century (1901–1960), and intense heat waves in the Southeast have become more frequent since the 1960s. Miami now experiences longer streaks of above 90°F days and has more than two additional weeks of warmer-than-normal fall days than it did in 1970. Warmer sea surface temperatures also raise the upper limit of potential hurricane wind speeds.
- Sea level is rising more rapidly in Florida than in other areas because Florida is also subsiding. Coastal sea level is likely to rise between 12 inches and four feet in the next 100 years. This will boost storm surge, the temporary increase in local sea level during storms due to weather conditions like low atmospheric pressure and strong winds. When storm surge is higher, it can flow further inland, causing flooding issues over a greater horizontal area.
- More than 60 percent of the state population lives within 10 miles of the coast, where the sea water level has already been rising with notable effects.
- Much of Florida’s critical infrastructure sits at low elevations, including roads, railways, ports, oil and gas facilities. Southeast Florida is projected to experience sea level rise of 6-10 inches by 2030 and 31-61 inches by 2100.
- As the atmosphere warms, its capacity to hold water increases—meaning more water is available for passing storms to use as precipitation. The heaviest 1% of rainstorms in the Southeast now dump 27% more rain on the region than the heaviest 1% of rainstorms did in 1958. During hurricanes, runoff from heavy rainfall ends up in rivers, where it flows out to sea. Along the way, it can crash into storm surge coming upriver from the coast. This leads to so-called compound flooding, which affected Jacksonville during Hurricane Irma.
Florida’s opinions and action on climate change
- According to the 2016 Yale Climate Opinion Maps of the U.S., 70% of adult Floridians recognize that global warming is happening. The project finds that 74% of adults in the state support regulating carbon dioxide as a pollutant, with 68% supporting setting carbon dioxide limits on existing coal-fired power plants. 82% support funding research into renewable energy sources.
- Florida developed a climate adaptation plan in 2008. Of 28 goals laid out in the plan, three have been completed and 13 are in progress.
- The Clean Power Plan would require Florida to reduce power-sector emissions by 26 percent (based on 2012 levels) by 2030. The state is party to the lawsuit against the CPP
- Twelve cities in Florida are signed on to the We Are Still In declaration, expressing commitment to the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate action. There are 31 Florida members of Climate Mayors, a bipartisan network of U.S. mayors working to address climate change in their communities. In addition, the cities of Orlando, Sarasota and St. Petersburg have committed to transitioning to 100% renewable energy.
Florida has potential to benefit from clean energy
Read more: Florida Voters Support Climate Action and Florida Poll Toplines