Adapting to Sea Level Rise in Miami-Dade County, Florida

Issue

Miami-Dade County, Florida, contains some of the most populated cities in the state. The population, combined with the location and topography, makes this county particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. In order to adapt to the changes that sea level rise will bring to this heavily populated, ecologically important area, Miami-Dade County recognizes the need for a cohesive approach to planning for climate change.

Process

The Miami-Dade Office of Sustainability worked with the NOAA Coastal Services Center to host a workshop at which county department representatives learned how sea level rise could affect the county and generated ideas for how to adapt to these changes. To help participants understand how sea level rise might impact the work of each county department, maps were developed showing how predicted sea level rise might interact with saltwater intrusion, land cover and land use, zoning, emergency facilities, human infrastructure, and important natural features. In addition to these important maps, “media packets” were developed that included newspaper clippings, photographs, statistics, and charts that prompted participants to consider how sea level rise might impact each department. Participants then identified specific actions to adapt to climate change, including

  • Creating a centralized location for recording and sharing data representing hazards, climate, and vulnerabilities
  • Developing outreach and education programs on the value of natural areas and their connection to adapting to climate change
  • Developing and implementing climate-adaptive zoning and building codes and permit process modifications
  • Accelerating existing restoration efforts to help protect the community against rising sea level

Examining flood zones with societal information helps county employees think about how increased flooding from sea level rise will impact their work