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UCF Researchers’ Model Predicts What Causes Sea Level Rise on Florida’s Coasts

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High surf pounds the Jacksonville Beach Pier during Hurricane Dorian on Wednesday.

High surf pounds the Jacksonville Beach Pier during Hurricane Dorian. Photo: David Luckin/WJCT

University of Central Florida researchers have developed a model that leaders can use to plan for sea level rise in the state’s coastal regions.

UCF Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering’s Thomas Wahl says their model doesn’t predict when or where sea level rise will happen. 

But Wahl says it can look at historical data and determine which natural events have caused very high sea levels in coastal regions in the past.

“And that is something that can help guiding some of our flat-risk assessments and maybe also some of the adaptation planning that has to be going on at some point to mitigate the impacts from sea level rise.”

Wahl says that means resilience strategies should take into consideration that storm surge during hurricanes has been the main driver of sea level rise on Florida’s Gulf Coast. 

He says the same should be done for Florida’s South Atlantic Coast where higher than normal tides – often called king tides – have been the main reason for higher water levels.

The study was published in the journal Nature Scientific Data.

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Abe Aboraya

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