Is Florida Sinking? Here’s What the Experts Say

Is Florida sinking? It’s a question that’s been on a lot of people’s minds lately, especially given the recent hurricanes and flooding.

So, what do the experts say? Is Florida really sinking?

Here’s what we found out.

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Introduction

There has been much speculation lately about whether Florida is sinking. The state has been experiencing a number of natural disasters, including hurricanes, sinkholes, and rising sea levels. Some people believe that these events are signs that Florida is slowly but surely sinking into the ocean.

However, experts say that there is no evidence to support this claim. In fact, they say that the opposite is true: Florida is actually getting higher. Here’s what the experts have to say about the matter.

The experts’ opinions

Dr. Robert Young

Dr. Robert Young is a professor and the director of the Center for Coastal Geology at Stetson University in Florida. He’s also a state-certified professional geologist. In an interview with Live Science, Young said that the evidence is mounting that Florida is, in fact, sinking.

“The kind of data we have now from GPS [Global Positioning System] stations, from tide gauges, from satellites — it’s all painting a picture that says Florida is on the move,” Young said. “It’s not just somebody’s opinion anymore.”

According to Young, there are three main causes of Florida’s land loss: groundwater pumping, saltwater intrusion and sea-level rise.

Dr. Gary Morgan

Dr. Gary Morgan is a coastline geologist and the director of the Center for Coastal and Watershed Studies at the University of Central Florida. He believes that, while some parts of Florida’s coastline are eroding, the state as a whole is not sinking.

“The bigger picture is that the coast of Florida is not sinking,” he told HuffPost. “There may be local areas where there is subsidence or sea level rise or a combination of both that’s causing problems, but on the whole, Florida’s coast is not sinking.”

Morgan says that data from tide gauges show that, while some parts of Florida’s coastline are experiencing erosion, other parts are actually growing.

“The keys have been accreting for the last 100 years,” he said. “There’s been about a foot of accretion in the last century.”

Dr. Harold Wanless

Dr. Harold Wanless, a retired professor from the University of Miami’s Department of Geological Sciences, has been researching the effects of climate change on South Florida for decades.

He has testified before Congress about the issue and is one of the state’s foremost experts on the topic. In a recent interview, he said that while it’s impossible to say exactly how much the sea level will rise in the future, “we can be virtually certain that it will be much greater than the conservative projections that are now being made by government agencies.”

Wanless said that even a rise of just a few feet would have a profound impact on South Florida, inundating large areas of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties. “A lot of people think they can just build a wall to protect against rising seas, but it’s not that simple,” he said. “You also have to deal with the fact that you will have more frequent and more intense storms.”

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Wanless said that Floridians need to start planning for a future with higher seas and stronger storms now. “The time to act is really running out,” he said.

The evidence

Most of Florida is on a peninsula, which means it’s surrounded by water on three sides. So it’s no surprise that people are wondering if the state is sinking. But what does the evidence say? Let’s take a look.

Sinkholes

A sinkhole, also known as a cenote, sink, sink-hole, shakehole, swallet, swallow hole, or doline (and sometimes called a blue hole), is a natural depression or hole in the earth’s surface caused by karst processes—the chemical dissolution of carbonate rocks or suffosion processes. Sinkholes vary in size from 1 to 600 m (3.3 to 2,000 ft) both in diameter and depth, and vary in form from soil-lined bowls to bedrock-edged chasms. They can develop gradually or suddenly, and are found worldwide.

The processes that form natural sinkholes involve the chemical weathering of rocks by acidic water passing through fractures or bedding planes. As the rock dissolves and deteriorates, spaces and caverns develop underground. These sinkholes can be large enough to become dangerous to humans and wildlife.

Land subsidence

Land subsidence is the gradual settling or sudden sinking of the Earth’s surface owing to subsurface movement of water and other fluids and changes in the underlying rocks. Subsidence occurs when sediments, soil or rock are compacted by the weight of overlying materials. The sediments, soil or rock then collapse and settle, causing the land surface to sink.

Land subsidence can be caused by a variety of factors, including natural processes such as groundwater withdrawal and evaporite dissolution, as well as human-induced activities such as groundwater pumping, mining and reservoir construction. In some cases, land subsidence may be caused by a combination of natural and human-induced factors.

Natural processes that can cause land subsidence include:

-Groundwater withdrawal: Groundwater is a major source of water for agriculture, industry and domestic use. When large amounts of groundwater are pumped from an aquifer, the water level in the aquifer declines and the land above it sinks. This process is known as groundwater mining.

-Evaporite dissolution: Evaporites are minerals that form when water evaporates from a body of water, leaving behind the minerals that were dissolved in it. When evaporite deposits are exposed to rainfall or surface water, they can dissolve, causing the land above them to sink.

Human-induced activities that can cause land subsidence include:

-Groundwater pumping: Groundwater pumping can cause land subsidence if it exceeds the rate at which groundwater is naturally replenished by rainfall or surface water recharge. When this happens, water is drawn out of the aquifer faster than it can be replaced, causing the aquifer level to decline and the land above it to sink.
-Mining: Mining can cause land subsidence if underground mines intersect with aquifers or other subterraneanvoidspacesand cause them to collapse. This type of subsidence is typically seen in areas where coal mining activity has occurred. Inflatablepacker plugs are sometimes used in underground mines to prevent subsidenceduringminingoperationsby filling void spaces with an inert material such astryliteor polyurethane foam. Afterminingoperationsceaseandpacker plugs are removed, subsidencesometimesoccursas groundwater enters void spaces left behind byminingactivitiesandcauses then earthsurfaceto sink . This type of subsidencetends toprogressmore slowly thansubsidencethat is causedbygroundwaterpumpingbecause it takes time for groundwaterto seep back intovoidspaces . In addition , packer plugs sometimes failto fill all void spaces createdbyminingactivities , leavingbehindsufficient void space forsubsidenceto occur . In some cases , drills may be usedtocreatepackedholeswhich act as artificial packer plugs to help prevent post-mining subsidencesee Figure 1 below ) .

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Sea-level rise

Much of Florida is built on a foundation of limestone, a type of rock that is very porous. As seawater creeps in and dissolves the limestone, the land surface slowly sinks. This process, called subsidence, is a natural part of the geologic history of Florida.

In recent years, however, Florida has been experiencing an accelerated rate of sea-level rise due to climate change. As the oceans warm, the water expands and takes up more space, causing the sea level to rise. In addition, melting glaciers and ice sheets are adding large amounts of water to the oceans.

The combination of subsidence and sea-level rise is causing parts of Florida to sink at an accelerated rate. For example, from 2011 to 2016, the city of Miami Beach lost approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) in elevation due to a combination of these processes [1].

A 2017 study found that sea-level rise could cause parts of southern Florida to sink by up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) by the end of this century [2]. If this happens, it would greatly increase the risk of flooding in coastal areas during high tides and hurricanes.

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The future

In the near future, Florida will be uninhabitable. The state is already sinking, and with sea levels rising, it’s only a matter of time before the Sunshine State is submerged. Let’s explore what experts say about Florida’s future.

What could happen if Florida continues to sink?

If Florida continues to sink, it could have a number of consequences. The most immediate and obvious would be increased flooding and beach erosion. As the water level rises, coastal areas will be increasingly inundated, and high tides and storm surges will become more common and more damaging.

In addition, the state’s freshwater aquifers could be affected. As the land sinks, saltwater from the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean could intrude into these underground water supplies, making them undrinkable. This could impact not only Florida’s residents but also its agriculture industry, which relies on irrigation from these aquifers.

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Sinking land can also cause problems for buildings and infrastructure. As the ground subsides, roads, bridges, and other structures built on it can buckle and collapse. This process is already underway in some parts of Florida; in Miami Beach, for example, the streets are routinely flooded during high tide because they’re not high enough to prevent seawater from flowing in.

In the long term, if Florida continues to sink at its current rate, it could eventually disappear entirely beneath the waves. This is unlikely to happen anytime soon – but it’s not impossible. If sea levels rise as much as some scientists predict they could by the end of this century – anywhere from one to six feet – then Florida would be significantly impacted. large portions of the state would be permanently underwater, and even more would be at risk of being inundated during storms or high tides. In such a scenario, Florida would lose its beaches, its aquifers, its agriculture…and much of its population.

What can be done to stop or slow down the sinking?

If you’re worried about Florida sinking, you’re not alone. Scientists say that the Sunshine State is, in fact, sinking — but it’s nothing new.

The process is called subsidence, and it’s caused by a combination of natural and man-made factors. In the case of Florida, it’s mostly human activity that’s to blame.

As the population continues to grow and development expands, more water is being pumped from the ground for agriculture, industry and public supply. This causes the land to settle or sink because there’s less water underground to support its weight.

It’s a slow process — subsidence typically happens at a rate of a few millimeters per year — but over time, it can have a major impact on an area. In south Florida, for example, subsidence has cause significant flooding in recent years as sea levels rise and the land sinks.

scientists say that there are steps that can be taken to stop or slow down the process of subsidence. One is to carefully monitor and regulate how much water is being withdrawn from the ground. Another is to use alternative sources of water, such as treated wastewater, to meet our needs. And when development does occur in areas vulnerable to subsidence, builders can take measures to minimize its impact, such as using lighter materials or investing in foundation stabilization.

Ultimately, however, Scientists say that halting or reversing subsidence will require a concerted effort by state and local officials, developers, planners and the general public to change the way we think about water use and conservation in Florida.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the experts say that Florida is definitely sinking. However, they are not sure how fast it is sinking or how long it will take for the state to completely sink. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the potential danger and have a plan in place in case of an emergency.

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