"Being able to detect and predict the pace of sea level rise is critical to being able to adapt to future changes in coastal regions," says Garrison.
Price says the information provided should offer some comfort to those living with this uncertainty.
"Our results show that by 2020 to 2030, we could have some statistical certainty of what the sea level rise situation will look like," she says.
"That means we'll know what to expect and have 70 years to plan. In a subject that has so much uncertainty, this gives us the gift of long-term planning."
Conservative projections suggest that sea level could rise by .3 meters by 2100, but with acceleration, some scientists believe that number will be closer to 1 meter.
"Areas of Miami Beach could experience constant flooding," says Price.
"The Everglades and mangroves may not be able to keep up. Mangroves are very important to South Florida, and their loss would likely mean more land erosion.
"We could see large portions of the Everglades taken over by the ocean. Areas that are freshwater today could become saltwater by 2100."
As cities, including Miami, continue to plan for long-term solutions to sea level rise, Price says she was surprised to discover that in the span of 20 years, scientists would be in a position to predict the long-term situation for Miami and other coastal areas across the planet.
Scientists should continue to crunch the numbers every decade, says Price, creating more certainty in long-term planning--and helping develop solutions for a changing planet.
|Contact: Cheryl Dybas|
National Science Foundation