(WSVN) - NASA is urging South Florida and coastal areas around the world to prepare for a decade-long surge in flooding. In the not-too-distant future, the moon will enter a cycle that is going to make high tides higher. 7’s Kevin Ozebek investigates.
With birds chirping in the background, dragonflies resting on reeds, and lily pads showing off their big, beautiful blooms, this looks like an untouched patch of wilderness.
But this is a man-made wetland built to protect Fort Lauderdale from flooding.
Mayor Dean Trantalis, Fort Lauderdale: “This is a drainage preserve which is intended to help drain the neighborhood.”
Mayor Dean Trantalis says the race is on to fortify his city. More severe storms and sea level rise brought on by climate change have meant more flooding. King tides have become especially alarming.
Mayor Dean Trantalis: “There are days like this, bright and sunny, where the water will be coming up to my knees in certain parts of the city.”
And unfortunately, NASA says the worst is yet to come.
Ben Hamlington, NASA scientist: “Areas that are already seeing flooding, like Miami, you’re just going to see that more much flooding.”
Ben Hamlington leads NASA’s team that analyzes sea levels.
He says, in the 2030s, the moon will go through what’s commonly called a “wobble.” That’s when the moon’s orbit slightly tilts, leading to an increase in its gravitational pull on Earth. The stronger that pull, the higher our tides.
Ben Hamlington: “This is a very near-term thing. I mean, 2030 is really not far away. We’re 10 years away from when we are going to see this rapid increase.”
Imagine the worst high-tide flooding you have seen in your neighborhood. Now, let’s fast forward to about 15 years from now. Add two inches of floodwater. That’s how much higher the tides could get with the additional pull from the moon.
Now, add two more inches on top of that. Projections show that’s how much higher the sea level will be as a result of climate change.
Ben Hamlington: “It’s kind of a stacking effect. You start to stack these things up, and you get longer duration of flooding, and you get more severe flooding as well.”
To learn more, we met up with Dr. James Webb from Florida International University.
James Webb, FIU Astronomy Professor: “Everything will get together to provide the maximum tidal forces, which we don’t want. We could do without.”
Don’t let his lab that’s modeled after the USS Enterprise fool you. This Star Trek fanatic is a renowned astronomer.
James Webb: “We should be alarmed.”
Kevin Ozebek: “Why do you think we should be alarmed?”
James Webb: “Because we’re not paying attention. We’re not paying attention to global warming.”
Professor Webb says you cannot stop a lunar cycle.
James Webb: “But we can do something to reverse global warming.”
In the meantime, many in charge of infrastructure are moving fast.
Mayor Dean Trantalis: “We’re on a path to make sure that this does not hurt our community, and so we’re ready for the worst.”
Mayor Trantalis says, expect more drainage systems like this one to pop up in Fort Lauderdale.
NASA is hoping coastal communities around the planet are just as prepared as we await the change in the moon’s orbit.
NASA says this lunar cycle was actually discovered centuries ago, but it only now poses a threat when combined with the impact of climate change.
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