Researcher seeks residents to share perceptions of sea level rise
Ever see the photograph of a polar bear clinging to a tiny island of ice in a great ocean and wonder what you personally can do to stem sea level rise? That opportunity arrived via email on October 29, courtesy of Deerfield Beach’s public information office.
“The City of Deerfield Beach Environmental Service Department requests your participation to complete a survey…(that) focuses on the increase in the height of the sea’s surface relative to land, known as sea level rise,” the message said.
The city was responding to a request from Coral Springs resident Keren Bolter, who is on the cusp of a Ph.D. in Geosciences. Bolter will use the data for a doctoral thesis comparing the perceived risk of sea level rise with reality. Her goal: find out if people are concerned – and whether they should be.
The answer isn’t obvious, apparently.
“Why are people buying property at two feet above sea level when the sea level is projected to rise up to two feet by the year 2060?” she said. “Inland areas think they are safe, but they don’t realize the water comes up through the porous ground… “
Bolter knows of what she speaks. She has just completed a TEDx Miami talk about the misconceptions related to Sea Level Rise broadcast on National Public Radio the week of November 11, Sea Level Rise Week. The information, she said, is vital to helping planners and emergency personnel identify where people are at greatest risk.
Yet of 30 cities she contacted, only Deerfield Beach and Coconut Creek have agreed to cooperate. Ironically, she said, those are among the Broward communities with the least to worry about.
“In general, the elevations in Broward County go from north to south, from high to low. Deerfield Beach, in terms of elevation is close to ten feet higher than Fort Lauderdale” she explained.
Residents there might even think they are safe from storm surge, flooding and property loss. They would be dead wrong. Bolter needs 1,000 survey respondents to find out and she’s gotten 300. To help, click on www.kbolter.com, and spend a few minutes answering questions about your own perception of sea level rise in Broward County. The survey will be available online until December 31, 2013.