Gulf of Mexico
The town of Apalachicola, Fla. and these docks, near the mouth of the Apalachicola River, would not be inundated by a 2-foot rise in sea level that’s predicted in the area by 2060 by scientists working for the U.S. Department of the Interior. Credit: David Pendered. 2012

FL - Sea level rise could erase gains Florida seeks in water war: New federal research

Sea level rise that a federal program predicts will inundate land far inland of Apalachicola Bay by 2060 could wipe away gains Florida hopes to gain in its water war with Georgia.

Florida wants Georgia to release more water into Florida. A shortage of water flow from Georgia into Florida harms the bay’s health, oysters and fishery-dependent communities, Florida argues in its lawsuit against Georgia pending before the U.S. Supreme Court. A ruling is expected before June 30.

Now, scientists overseen by the U.S. Department of the Interior are offering scenarios that show rising sea levels pushing far north and east of the bay – well up the Apalachicola River and well east of Jackson River, all the way into Searcy Creek.

The report does not predict specific consequences of the inundation. This is what the report does say about a sea level rise in the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve:

  • “SLR [sea level rise] is expected to lead to more nuisance flooding and increased saltwater intrusion, which may transform many of the NERR’s coastal ecosystems.
  • “Under higher SLR scenarios, some ecosystems may be lost, while others may move upslope at the expense of less flood- or salt-tolerant ecosystems.
  • “As a result, SLR has the potential to greatly impact the Apalachicola NERR and its ability to fulfill its mission.”

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