The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report revealing how climate change could strike Florida much sooner than anticipated. According to a projection from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sea levels near Miami-Dade County could rise 15 inches by 2045. That’s a huge problem, because at high tide, one fifth of urban areas in the county are only about 12 inches higher than sea level.

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The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Southeast Climate Advocate Nicole Hernandez Hammer said, “There is a high sense of urgency for initiatives to move forward and address sea level rise from the state and federally.”

Related: Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection bans term ‘climate change’

According to the report, Miami-Dade residents would be forced to battle flooding daily; the Union predicts there would be “380 high-tide flood events per year.” Many currently inhabited areas would cease to be livable.

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has investigated better ways to combat rising sea levels for years, and efforts increased after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. Now they’re planning a two to three year study to assess how to protect vulnerable regions and help local communities prepare in what Gizmodo calls “the first coordinated, large-scale infrastructural response.

The study will generate guidelines for communities and also send a list to the federal government detailing Florida’s greatest areas of need. This will likely be more than simply dredging canals or developing pumps; the Miami Herald said it could be “the biggest public works project in history.”

The work is vital not only for the $6.4 billion in real estate potentially affected, but because over 20 percent of families in Miami-Dade live under the poverty line, and may not be equipped to deal with the consequences of climate change.

Via Gizmodo

Images via Wikimedia Commons (1,2)