Alaska to Florida, FAU to Host Third Sea-level Rise Summit

The sub-tropics and the Arctic are rarely discussed together, and comparing shared experiences is expected to unlock new insights and generate a blueprint for solutions and adaptation.

The rapid melting of the Arctic ice is threatening coastal locations globally, and impacts include increased flooding from sea-level rise in Florida to infrastructure instability from permafrost melting in Alaska.


By gisele-galoustian | 4/8/2016

While Florida and Alaska are on the opposite ends of the spectrum, they share mutual concerns of the imminent challenges presented by environmental changes. The rapid melting of the Arctic ice is threatening coastal locations globally, and impacts include increased flooding from sea-level rise in Florida to infrastructure instability from permafrost melting in Alaska.

Sustainability professionals from the private sector – including insurance companies, realtors, architects and developers – will join leading scientists, decision-makers and members of the public sector for the third Sea-level Rise Summit from Tuesday, May 3 through Thursday, May 5 at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, 2301 SE 17th St., in Fort Lauderdale.

Hosted by Florida Atlantic University’s Florida Center for Environmental Studies, the aim of the summit is to compare and contrast the unfolding impacts and response in these different regions to identify and highlight opportunities for building coastal resilience both locally and globally. The sub-tropics and the Arctic are rarely discussed together, and comparing shared experiences is expected to unlock new insights. Stakeholders in both regions will identify globally relevant public policy and private adaptation strategies to lessen the impacts everywhere.

Like the Arctic, South Florida is one of the world’s most vulnerable areas to climate change, especially sea-level rise. In Florida, potential adaptation to sea-level rise is complicated by the porous limestone geology of the region, permitting salt water intrusion into important aquifers. The low level terrain in many areas makes even a relatively small sea-level rise problematic.

“Coastal cities are critically important for our economy and society, and are facing unprecedented environmental challenges,” said Colin Polsky, Ph.D., director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at FAU. “This summit will break new ground by pairing two coastal regions that are both experiencing environmental challenges, but are already working to adapt to these changes. By tapping into the collective wisdom of the participants, the summit will result in a living document titled ‘Adaptation Pathways 1.0.’ that will serve as a blueprint for other coastal communities throughout the world.”

Since the United States assumed chairmanship of the eight-nation Arctic Council for the period 2015-17, the U.S. State Department has highlighted how ice melting in the Arctic affects people, infrastructure and ecosystems worldwide, multiplying risks around the world.

FAU’s Sea-Level Rise Summit will open with a pre-summit examination of the science, commencing with a presentation by NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. The following two days will include facilitated panel sessions and interactive visioning activities covering topics such as the economic implications of sea-level rise, impacts on infrastructure, health and livelihoods, and response success stories.

FAU’s summit is supported in part by the Canadian, British and Dutch Consulates in Miami; the Chambers of Commerce of Greater Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach; the U.S. Geological Survey; World Resources Institute; Union of Concerned Scientists; Florida Climate Institute; and FAU. The summit is open to the general public, agencies, decision makers, businesses, planners, researchers, risk management offices, and other interested parties.

Advance registration costs $250 until Monday, April 11 and $300 thereafter. Registration includes materials, conference app, all sessions and panels, the evening opening reception in the Pier Top Ballroom on Tuesday, May 3, as well as the main reception, two breakfasts, two lunches and all breaks.   

For more information or to register, visit www.ces.fau.edu/arctic-florida or contact Mary Beth Hartman at 954-236-1203 or mhartman@fau.edu.

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