Suncoast vulnerable to rising sea levels

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Posted: Tuesday, July 30, 2013 5:28 pm | Updated: 8:03 pm, Tue Aug 20, 2013.

A new study shows that rising sea levels will threaten the viability of thousands of coastal cities -- and no state will feel the effects more than Florida.

"Its possible that we could see two or more meters rising and that could be catastrophic," said New College Professor Frank Alcock.

Two meters is equivalent to about 6 1/2 feet but when spread across the entire ocean, Alcock says it could mean the end of many coastal properties.

"We need to be thinking 30, 40, 50 years ahead with respect to what we're building and where we are putting the new round of public infrastructure and take into consideration some of the projections of with sea level rising when we do that," added Alcock.

According to the interactive map on Sarasota Bay Estuary Program's website if sea level did rise 6 ft, Long Boat Key, Siesta Key and parts of down town Sarasota would be all under water.  A study done by the National Academy of Science confirms those fears.   It shows more than 1000 cities across the country would also be mostly under water at high tide if global warning continues to at it's current pace.

"The big concern is rapid glacier melting and then how fast sea level could accelerate, " said Alcock.

According to the EPA web site increasing concentrations of greenhouse emissions like carbon dioxide are responsible for raising the earth's average temperature. But many dispute the effects of global warming, say it doesn't exist.

"I know there some naysayers out there but it goes an against the bulk of scientific work that says sea levels will continue to rise," said Manatee County official, Charlie Hunsicker.

That belief is why representatives from Sarasota Bay Estuary Program says its best to be prepared.  "We're surrounded by water here in Florida.  So, it's good to look at long term planning and see where your house is and if you could be effected," said Sara Kane.

In the mean time both Manatee and Sarasota counties have began their planning process just in case sea level dose rise.

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