The Everglades, nicknamed the river of grass, has endured its share of threats. Decades of human tinkering to make South Florida an oasis for residents and a profitable place for farmers and businesses has redirected water away from the wetlands. Runoff from agricultural fields bordering the national park causes perennial toxic algal blooms in Florida’s coastal estuaries.
But now, the Everglades — home to alligators and crocodiles, deer, bobcats and the Florida panther, plus a dizzying array of more than 300 bird species — is facing a far more relentless foe: rising seas.
South Florida is ground zero when it comes to sea level rise in the United States. By 2100, waters near Key West are projected to be as much as two meters above current mean sea level. Daily high tides are expected to flood many of Miami’s streets. The steady encroachment of saltwater is already changing the landscape, killing off saw grass and exposing the land to erosion.
Against this looming threat, Everglades ecologists and hydrogeologists are racing to find ways to mitigate the damage before the land is reclaimed by the ocean, irrevocably lost. Shimelis Dessu, a Post-Doc hydrogeologist in the Department of Earth and Environment and in the Southeast Environment Research Center says we can’t ignore it anymore.
This Science News article goes in depth on the race against the rise.