Picture a map of Florida.

Or Venice. Or Jakarta. Or Manhattan.

Each of these cities are thriving metropolises, home to millions, perched next to large bodies of water. 

Those were all idyllic locations for centuries. But not anymore.

The maps of these cities, the surrounding regions and larger national boundaries, are being reshaped by our warming planet — and they may look very different in our lifetimes.

For the city of Miami, the existential threat of hurricanes, floods and storm surges have now catalyzed serious action.

In a race against the tides of time, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dumping hundreds of thousands of tons of sand across “erosion hotspots” in the coastal barrier islands.

Stephen Leatherman, a professor and co-director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University, says that South Florida is "really considered the ground zero for climate change."

Describing the detrimental effects of beach erosion, Leatherman — known in the area as "Dr. Beach" — explains that "king tides" are occurring “all too often now.”

"King Tide" is the nonscientific name given to exceptionally high water.

The new Miami Forever Climate Ready strategy focuses on safeguarding the city through a variety of measures, including planting mangroves along the waterfront and raising sea walls. 

Miami's response in the face of adversity is a leading indicator of how coastal cities around the country, and the world, will be forced to respond.

Published on Feb 27, 2020