Unified Sea Level Rise Projections

Miami Beach and our challenges with sea level rise are a common theme in global conversations regarding climate change. It is not news to anyone that our low lying, coastal city is facing and will continue to face not only sea level rise, but also other impacts from climate change. However, the city of Miami Beach is working diligently to convert these challenges into opportunities, starting with adaptation initiatives such as the installation of pump stations, rising of roads, and other innovative drainage improvements that are informed by the latest scientific data

In 2011, the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (Compact) released a Regional Climate Action Plan with sea level rise projections for our region that the City of Miami Beach and other southeast Florida municipalities use as a guidance to prepare and integrate climate adaptation and mitigation into existing decision-making. In late 2014, the Compact reunited their Sea Level Rise Workgroup to adjust these regional projections with updated data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The sea level rise scenarios developed by this group were released in 2015 and project an estimated increase in sea level of approximately 6 to 10 inches by 2030, 14 to 26 inches by 2060, and 31 to 61 by 2100.

In early 2020, the Compact released the 2019 projections, its third update. Using updated data from NOAA and the IPCC, the 2019 projection reveals slightly higher overall curves. Another notable difference between the 2019 and 2015 projections is the extended planning horizon. In accordance with the various climate scenarios coming out from federal agencies, the need to plan infrastructure with resilient designs beyond 50 years is reflected in this most recent projection. Additionally, the Projection now contains a 4th curve, the NOAA extreme curve. This curve was included for informational purposed to illustrate the most extreme scenario of sea level rise under conditions of accelerated ice melt occurring later in the century. The projection estimates an increase in sea level of approximately 10 to 17 inches by 2030, 21 to 54 inches by 2070, and 40 to 136 inches by 2120.Although these results show a they show a significant increase in sea level rise throughout the medium and long term scenarios (2070-2120), there is a high level of confidence in the blue shaded zone out to 2070. These projections are based on current greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and can only be improved if we reduce the amount of emissions released in our environment.

These projections are referenced to mean sea level at the Key West tide gauge. The projection includes three global curves adapted for regional application: the median of the IPCC AR5 RCP8.5 scenario as the lowest boundary (blue solid thin line), the NOAA Intermediate High curve as the upper boundary for the 50 year Planning Horizon, or until 2070 (solid blue thick line). The NOAA High curve is included for medium and long term use (dotted and dashed line), and the NOAA Extreme (dotted line) as the uppermost boundary for long term use. The incorporated table lists the projection values at years 2040, 2070 and 2120. This scenario would require significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in order to be plausible and does not reflect current emissions trends.








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