South Florida and the Everglades are uniquely vulnerable to the outcomes of climate change, including increased water and air temperatures, changes in rainfall, and sea level rise. Climate change will have a direct impact on the health of the Everglades, regional water supplies, recreation, tourism, andproperty values.
Altered rainfall patterns, more frequent and longer droughts, and more intense tropical storms are to be anticipated across South Florida. By 2100, airtemperatures are predicted to rise by 5.4 to 9° F, which will increase evaporation and the demand for water by municipal and agricultural users. TheEverglades will be drier, resulting in habitat loss and increased vulnerability to wildre, leading to a net release of greenhouse gas from the Everglades to the atmosphere. Increased drying of the Everglades will also limit recharge of the Biscayne Aquifer, which is the primary water supply for agriculture and 5 million Floridians between southern Palm Beach County and the Florida Keys.
In a century, sea level around South Florida is projected to rise between 40 and 136 inches. South Florida’s densely populated coastline, low elevation, and porous bedrock make it highly vulnerable to sea level rise, resulting in increased residential flooding and insurance claims, reduced property values, and saltwater intrusion into drinking water aquifers like the Biscayne Aquifer. With a drier Everglades, saltwater intrusion from sea level rise will get worse, thus making our source of freshwater less resilient and reliable during major and more frequent drought periods.
Climate change will affect many species inhabiting theEverglades, especially those that are sensitive to temperature or depend on seasonal rainfall, like wading birds, American alligators, and sh. Potential impacts include range shifts, changes in reproduction and survival, and changes in timing of important events like breeding or migration. Climate change is also expected to facilitate the further spread of invasivespecies across the Everglades.
If nothing is done to mitigate these effects throughEverglades restoration, we can expect many of the changes outlined to the right.