Miami Beach’s Flooding Is More Complicated Than Yelling ‘Global Warming’

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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Environmental activists again made the dubious claim that Miami Beach floods with high tide, and with it, they posted a picture purporting to show flooding during high tide.

It turns out, Miami Beach doesn’t flood with every high tide, and the picture is actually of flooding after a heavy rainstorm.

“It’s hard to ignore climate change in South Florida, what with the city streets that flood at high tide,” Katie Herzog, of the global warming alarmist site Grist, wrote Friday.

Miami Beach Public Relations Manager Melissa Berthier told The Daily Caller News Foundation that “flooding only happens during ‘king tides,'” which take place around April and October. She did go on to say that if enough rain falls during high tide, light flooding can occur. But reiterated floods do not happen as a normal occurrence during Miami Beach’s high tides.

Bethier noted Miami Beach has a massive pumping system meant to keep the streets from flooding and the city has even gone as far as elevating some roads to keep any flooding at bay.

King tides happen when the sun and moon align on the same side of the Earth, and their resulting combined gravitational pull produces tides much higher than normal. Berthier said king tides bring flooding to Miami Beach twice a year, with the fall tide being “more severe” than the spring.

Witness King Tides says on its website that “[King tides] aren’t part of climate change; they are a natural part of tidal cycles.” For reference, Miami receives just under 52 inches of rain a year, according to U.S. climate data.

When asked if subsidence — the gradual caving in or sinking of an area of land — had any role in the flooding, Berthier told The DCNF that while she is not an expert in subsidence, that it is not happening.

Miami Beach is roughly three feet above sea level and despite a decline in population from 1990 to 2000, has since rebounded and now has a population of 92,000, according to data.

As populations increase, the need for industry does as well. That means more water is drawn from the ground for industrial purposes. Add the weight of an increasing population and you have a recipe for subsidence. Water that once filled areas underground is now gone, and the land settles into these new hollow spaces.

Andrew Kiernan, a real estate expert from Franklin Street, makes the point that Miami Beach was built on sand, something that would lend itself to subsidence.

“People continue to build right up to the water’s edge,” Kiernan told Risk and Insurance in 2015. “Miami Beach has extremely tall condos containing levels of multimillion dollar units on a sandbar that may not have existed 300 years ago.”

Others claim rising ocean temperatures are responsible for coastal flooding, as the water heats and expands. While it is true surface sea temperatures are rising and sea levels are rising slowly, Dr. Robert E. Stevenson — former research scientist for NASA and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography — notes from a 2000 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration report (Levitus, et al. 2000) that human activity may not be the cause.

Stevenson says that from 1920-1940, the oceans were warming as well, long before carbon dioxide (CO2) was brought to light as an issue. In 1920, for instance, the saturation of CO2 in the atmosphere was under 300 parts per million (ppm). Today, the saturation level is just over 400 ppm.

Tony Heller, a geologist and electrical engineer who runs the website Real Science, contrasted an image of modern-day modern-day Miami Beach with a picture of Miami Beach from the 1950’s that shows, if anything, the beach has actually expanded a bit.

The Chicago Tribune ran a story in 2014 which says Miami Beach is helping to fund their climate change fight by building more condos. Something that would only stand to exacerbate any subsidence issues on the city.

“Approval of these luxury homes on what environmentalists warn is global warming quicksand amounts to a high-stakes bet that Miami Beach can, essentially, out-build climate change and protect its $27 billion worth of real estate,” according to The Chicago Tribune.

Editor’s note: This post was updated July 14.

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