dom018/includes/analytics.js?v=cf34f82" type="text/javascript"> Space Coast Climate Change Initiative

The East-Central Florida Climate Change Task Force envisions a Florida recognized as the “Silicon Valley” of Climate Change Innovation.

Given the substantial and immediate risks triggered by sea-level rise, Florida must respond more rapidly to global climate change. The Task Force sees this as an opportunity to initiate private and public investment that promotes growth of Space Coast “green businesses” and a skilled workforce striving to meet these new challenges.

This investment will ultimately generate innovative products (technology, policy, skilled labor) exportable to others grappling with Global Climate Change.


Sea-Level Rise
Space Coast Climate Change Initiative

Prepared by: East-Central Florida Climate
Change Task Force and RWParkinson Consulting, Inc.
June 24, 2008

Printable Version

During the 21st century climate change will present significant challenges to Florida residents by influencing nearly every aspect of our lives and the natural systems around us. The most obvious challenge to coastal communities will initially be increasing rates of sea-level rise and catastrophic storm landfall. The SCCI seeks to help the community prepare for these challenges through partnerships, science, and education.

Global climate change will forever change the physical, economic, environmental and social fabric of Florida communities. Specific elements of global climate change destined to change the way we currently live include:

Accelerated sea-level rise
Saltwater intrusion into coastal aquifers
Expanded flood damage to coastal properties and infrastructure
Accelerated beach erosion
Enhanced economic loss from more frequent and stronger hurricanes
Regional water supply shortfalls
Increase in the number, duration, and intensity of urban heat waves
Altered distribution of infectious diseases and human exposure to illness
Increased risk of wildfire
Increased demand for electric power
Within the state of Florida, average surface temperatures are predicted to increase by about 10° F while net precipitation will likely decrease. Sea-level is projected to rise by as much as 3 feet by 2100. The State’s population is expected to increase by 50% over the next 25 years, gobbling up an additional 7 million acres of undeveloped land by 2070. Two to three million acres of this development will take place on lands which currently recharge our aquifers.

The Space Coast is especially vulnerable to sea-level rise given the extensive distribution of low-lying areas along the mainland coast, throughout Merritt Island, and within the barrier Island system. Stanton and Ackerman (2007) quantified “vulnerability” by modeling inundation effects along the Florida coastline and determined Brevard County:

Ranks 1st in miles of vulnerable major roads and railway.
2. Ranks 4th in affected population.
3. Ranks 5th in total land area submerged.
4. Ranks 8th in the number of vulnerable housing units.
Other coastal counties will also be subject to accelerated beach erosion, coastal flooding, and salt water intrusion. While a substantial number of cities and states in the US are formulating climate action plans, most of these are focused almost entirely on mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. Only a few Florida state and local government agencies have begun to plan for the inevitable effects of sea-level rise by choosing between the options of protection, retreat, or accommodation (c.f., Miami-Dade Climate Change Advisory Task Force 2008; Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council 2005).

The SCCCI mission is to facilitate the exchange of ideas between experts, policy-makers, and the general public in the pursuit of strategies to mitigate and adapt to the local consequences of sea-level rise.

Why We Can't Wait

While there is still uncertainty regarding the details of this rise, comprehensive plans and associated development decisions are being made today which commit public and private investment in real estate and associated infrastructure. With a design life of 30 yrs to 100 yrs, many of these investments are on a collision course with rising sea-level and the resulting impacts will be significant. The effect on the area’s marine, estuarine, and terrestrial ecosystems, all of which are vital to the local economy, has not been fully quantified but will surely be large.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions are frozen today, global climate change will impact our quality of life for decades yet to come. As a quick read of any major newspaper or website will reveal, many coastal communities are already being subjected to enhanced flooding, accelerated coastal erosion, more frequent and longer droughts, and intense hurricanes.

Many of the concepts and text in the following citations were adapted for use in this Mission Statement.
Bollman, N., 2007. Florida’s resilient coasts discussion draft
— a state policy framework for adaptationto climate change. Unpublished report prepared by the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions, Florida Atlantic University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Center for Science in the Earth System, Joint Institute for
the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean,University of Washington, and King County Washington, 2007. Preparing for climate change: a guidebook for local, regional, and state governments.
Deyle, R.E., Bailey, K.C., and Matheny, A., 2008
Adaptive response planning to sealevel rise in Florida and implications for comprehensive and public-faculties planning. Unpublished report prepared by the Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Florida State University.
Miami-Dade Climate Change Advisory Force, 2008

Second report and initial recommendations. Report dated April 2008.

Mulkey, S. 2007. Climate change and land use in Florida:

independencies and opportunities. An unpublished report prepared for the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida.

Stanton, E.A., and Ackerman, F., 2007. Florida climate
change — the cost of inaction. Tufts University.
Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, 2005. Local

government review and approval of sea-level rise maps. Report dated December 5, 2005.


"It is widely accepted that human activities can impact global climate patterns. While there are legitimate disagreements among scientists on the nature, magnitude, and impact of these changes, the potential risks to Florida’s natural resources and our economy compel us to seek a thorough understanding of possible impacts and to provide current and future generations with the information necessary to adjust to them (Florida Oceans and Coastal Council 2009)."
Our Goal & Objectives

The Space Coast Climate Change Initiative represents a diverse group of local stakeholders who believe local governments should implement plans, policies, and/or programs to address global climate change. With this goal in mind, the following objectives are being pursued:

Objective No. 1
Convince local governments to identify (a) climate change issues relevant to their constituency and (b) specific recommendations on how best to proceed.
Objective No. 2
Ensure local governments comply with the specific recommendations formulated to address climate change.
Objective No. 3
Ensure the plans, policies, and/or programs implemented by local governments to address local climate change issues are periodically reviewed and updated to reflect available information.
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