Even Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is vulnerable to sea-level rise, experts say

South Florida's barrier islands could be swamped by rising tides in as little as 30 years

TRD MIAMI /
Feb.February 03, 2017 03:20 PM

Even President Donald Trump’s Winter White House is at risk of being swallowed up by the rising seas, scientists say.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that seas will rise by more than six feet by the end of the 21st Century, which would topple a portion of Mar-a-Lago, the Sun Sentinel reported. That’s bad news for Trump, who once tweeted that climate change was “a hoax by and for the Chinese” and has publicly denied that global warming is real.

The historic estate, built in the 1920s by cereal tycoon Marjorie Merriweather Post, sits on 17.5 acres between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places.

Harold Wanless, professor and chair of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami, told the Sun Sentinel that the models are underestimating how quickly the seas are rising, and that Mar-a-Lago and surrounding Palm Beach properties will be affected as quickly as 30 years down the line. The effects of the king tides, coastal erosion and storm surge could make South Florida’s barrier islands “uninhabitable” in the not-so-distant future.

Federal funding could also play a role in working to combat the effects of sea-level rise in South Florida. In Miami Beach, the local government is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on efforts that include installing pump stations and raising roads. During an expert panel at a chamber of commerce event last year, a Florida Atlantic University researcher said that in as little as 15 years, flooding in areas like Belle Isle will grow much worse. And by 2060, the oceans are projected to rise by two feet, putting the western half of Miami Beach under water.

Following the election, Trump told the New York Times that there may be “some connectivity” between climate change and human activity, according to the Sun Sentinel. After the inauguration, the White House website had been wiped clean of almost all mention of climate change.

Wanless said he and other Florida scientists have requested a meeting with Trump to discuss climate change, writing in a letter that, “Many of Florida’s waterfront properties (including yours) are vulnerable to even minor increases in sea level because of erosion and storm surge … This is not a distant threat. Climate change is making an impact today.” [Sun Sentinel] – Katherine Kallergis


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