Sea Level Rise: What’s Coming and What We Can Do About it

Severe weather events like Superstorm Sandy are revealing the vulnerability of New York City and other coastal communities, particularly as sea levels continue to rise. In his lab at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School, Ben Kirtman is using one of the world’s largest supercomputers to more accurately predict the risk of severe flooding—in the upcoming weeks and decades. In this ’Cane Talk, Professor Kirtman describes what his research means for cities across the globe.
Ben Kirtman is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science. He leads UM’s Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies and the Center for Computational Science’s Climate and Environmental Hazards Program. Known internationally for using complex computer models to bring unprecedented detail to climate change measurement, Professor Kirtman also serves as an advisor to the United Nations and other multinational organizations.



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April 11 at 7 pm Whitten University Center - StormSurge Room
Free Admission. Finger food and refreshments served.
The Storm Surge room is in front of the Pool entrance. For directions, click here
If you have questions, contact

Questions addressed that evening:
- How can communities evaluate their vulnerability to the multiple threats represented by Sea Level Rise? What do such integrated vulnerability assessments look like for Southeast Florida?
- What are the potential local government legal and financial liabilities for Sea Level Rise? How far into the future should communities be planning for Sea Level Rise?
-  How does Sea Level Rise affect the policy decisions we are making about the everglades and other natural areas?
- Are there policy changes that will help lessen the impact on less affluent communities?
- How is resiliency influencing other major policy areas within the County such as transportation, planning, or economic development?

Our panelists:

Jim Murley - Miami Dade County Chief Resilience Officer

James F. Murley was recently appointed Chief Resilience Officer for Miami Dade County by Mayor Carlos Gimenez. Jim served has Secretary of the Department of Community Affairs under Governor Lawton Chiles and was appointed by Governor Charlie Crist to serve as Chair of the Florida Energy and Climate Commission. Previously he served as Executive Director of 1000 Friends of Florida, spent over 10 years with Florida Atlantic University overseeing research on urban and environmental issues and served as the Executive Director of the South Florida Regional Planning Council.  He is former Vice-Chair of the Miami-Dade County Sea Level Rise Task Force, a former member of the Broward County Climate Change Task Force and was recently appointed to the City of Miami Sea Level Rise Committee.  He is a founding Board member of the American Society for Adaptation Professionals and a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.

- Prof. Brian Soden - Professor of Atmospheric Sciences RSMAS

Dr. Brian J. Soden is a Professor at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School for Marine and Atmospheric Science. Dr. Soden specializes in the use of satellite observations to test and improve computer simulations of Earth’s climate. He received his B.S. degree from the University of Miami, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Chicago. Before returning to the University of Miami, Dr. Soden was a Visiting Scientist and Lecturer at Princeton University, and a Physical Scientist with NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, NJ. Dr. Soden has authored over 100 peer reviewed papers on weather and climate change. He is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore. Other honors include the American Meteorological Society’s Henry G. Houghton Award, the National Space Club’s David S. Johnson Award, and the National Aeronautics and Space Agency’s H.E. Reid Award. Full Bio

- Thomas Ruppert P.A. - FL Sea Grant

Thomas Ruppert, coastal planning specialist at the Florida Sea Grant College Program, is a licensed attorney developing legal and policy analysis for local governments on aspects of adaptive planning for sea-level rise, community resilience, and associated long-term challenges and opportunities for Florida’s coastal communities. Areas of expertise include federal and state property rights law, beach and coastal policy in Florida, flood insurance, Florida’s Coastal Construction Control Line program, planning law, and coastal and marine permitting programs. He has worked with over a dozen partners to organize and host legal workshops on coastal issues and flood insurance around the state. Mr. Ruppert is currently involved with several initiatives within Florida communities planning for sea-level rise and maintains a website of original resources at

- Mitchell A. Chester, P.A. - CLEO institute/

Mitchell A. Chester, Esq. is a civil trial lawyer practicing in South Florida. He is a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates and an AV rated attorney. In practice for over 36 years, he is deeply concerned about developing legal, social, housing and monetary adaptation solutions for communities threatened by swelling oceans due to sea level rise (SLR). Mr. Chester is editor of (how agriculture can adapt to sea level rise and increased heat), (which explores legal and practical financial issues pertaining to sea level rise), (monetary tools for sea level rise), Sea Level Rise (a podcast which discusses topics to examine key societal issues and opportunities presented by encroaching waters), (explaining special sea level rise zones in Florida) and (SLR issues). His focus is on people, including homeowners, renters, business owners and agricultural interests as we jointly prepare for altered coastlines. He is one of the directors of the CLEO Institute , which educates government leaders and students in Southeastern Florida about sea level rise and climate issues. Mr. Chester has presented SLR and climate issues in Southeastern Florida including events at the University of Miami, Florida Atlantic University, Miami-Dade College, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the Arthur R. Marshall Foundation for the Everglades, the Environmental Coalition for Miami and the Beaches, the Coral Gables Museum, the Florida Bar Environmental Law Section and other venues. He is a contributor to and writes on SLR issues for that international forum. Mitch has been involved in various hurricane relief and severe weather recovery efforts in South Florida and was involved in a project advocating the shipment of surplus portable classrooms to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. He helped initiate the American Board of Trial Advocates Fort Lauderdale Chapter annual scholarship for NSU law students and has served on the Chapter’s Board of Directors. In January, 2016, he was named Trial Lawyer of the Year by the Fort Lauderdale ABOTA Chapter. Mitch was involved in community efforts to relocate IKEA to the City of Sunrise, in the re-design Interstate 595 to prevent the double decking of that major roadway due to safety and environmental concerns and has advocated for affordable housing in Court proceedings and in the Town of Davie as a former Chair of the Town’s Affordable Housing Advisory Committee. 


Full Program here


 “CLIMATE CHANGE: What lies ahead?”

December 11, 2015 at 6:30 pm
Global Ties Miami at the Center for Social Change
2013 Coral Way, 2nd Floor, Miami, FL 33145

Panel discussion- A first-hand report of the Climate Change Summit (COP21): What are the impacts on local communities and how does South Florida address the climate issue?

Opening remarks – Françoise Laine, President of the Board of Global Ties Miami
Introduction – Philippe Létrilliart, Consul general of France

      - Harold R Wanless, Ph.D.-  Chairman UM Department of Geological Sciences
      - Jim Murley - Chief Resilience Officer at the Miami-Dade County
      - Dr Larry Frolich – Professor in the Biology department/ Miami Dade College

Moderator: Joseph B Treaster, PhD , Professor UM School of Communication

As we are closing the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21), the annual meeting of all countries taking initiative for the climate held in Paris-Le Bourget, France, from Nov. 30 to December 11, the organization Global Ties in collaboration with the Consulate general of France in Miami invite you to an evening dedicated to the climate issue.
Background: Global surface temperature is rising. It will probably be 1.5 °C higher at the end of the century compared with the pre-industrial era (1850-1900). Biodiversity, coastal regions, the oceans, health and even our cultural heritage are affected by the impacts of climate change. This was the essential message of the 5th report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published in 2014.
Impacts already visible: Climate change is a reality. Disturbances are already being seen in the ecological balance of large ecosystems: a changing physical environment and living things that are trying to adapt or disappearing. We are also beginning to envisage the consequences for human societies: forced migrations, an increase in the number of conflicts (use of water resources, appropriation of fertile soils, etc.)

Local impacts and local actions: Thanks to the participation of the Consul general of France, Professors and local leaders, the objective of this evening focusing on climate change is to discuss the impacts of the COP21 negotiations in South Florida and the involvement of the local communities.


UM participated to the South East Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit 2014.


The Honorable Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Courts, Miami-Dade County with UM Sustainability Manager, Teddy Lhoutellier at the SEF Climate Leadership Summit 10.02.14

The annual Summit is coordinated by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, a partnership between Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, their municipalities and the Institute for Sustainable Communities.

Green U, students from the Environmental Justice Center - School of Law and the Abess Center

Visitors learned about UM’s latest Climate Change mitigation initiatives. Special emphasis was given to Climate Adaptation Research where UM is clearly among the main leaders in the Nation with the new Marine Technology & Life Sciences Seawater Complex. The Complex provides research and teaching laboratories in two critical areas: air-sea interactions and biology of living marine organisms, including a wind-wave-storm surge simulator capable of generating Category 5 hurricane-force winds in a three-dimensional test environment, a state of the art tool, unique in the World.
To learn more about it, visit RSMAS - SUSTAIN


Today, Dr. Shalala is reaffirming UM’s commitment to Sustainability:
“In many ways, Florida is a testing ground for how the United States will manage the risks of climate change. Will we sit by and watch as many of our coastal cities face an ever-rising sea, and as severe heat strains our electric grids and hobbles our workers? Or will we act now to help reduce the risk that these impacts will spiral out of control in the future? It’s time for us all to step up.”

Donna A. Shalala is Member of the Risky Business Project Committee





University of Miami - Marine Technology & Life Sciences Seawater Complex

Research at RSMAS

The University of Miami's Marine Technology & Life Sciences Seawater Complex will open at the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science soon. The new complex will provide research and teaching laboratories in two critical areas: air-sea interactions and biology of living marine organisms, including a wind-wave-storm surge simulator capable of generating Category 5 hurricane-force winds in a three-dimensional test environment, a state of the art tool, unique in the World.

Faculty Experts

Welcome to a list of University of Miami experts on subjects related to green initiatives. Please browse our listing by selecting from the following topics below.

If you cannot reach the faculty expert listed, or need a source for a topic not listed below, please contact the Media Relations Office at 305-284-5500.

Browse experts by subject:

Climate Change and Global Warming
Ocean Policy
Hydrogen Fuels Cell Technology/Alternative Energy

UM Professor, Dr. Harold Wanless on Sea Level Rise in South Florida




The CLEO Institute

The CLEO Institute’s Founder and Executive Director, Caroline Lewis, was a high school teacher and principal for 22 years. She moved on to become the Director of Education at Fairchild Botanic Garden, where she created programs and expanded outreach by 800%.

Lewis frequently speaks at summits and conferences and has influenced environmental education efforts in institutions around the United States and internationally. In December 2012, she was appointed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Environmental Education Advisory Council. In 2013, she was one of twelve individuals recognized as a White House Community Resilience Champion of Change for building climate resilience in the community through her work at CLEO.

CLEO’s lead advisor is Dr. Harold Wanless, a nationally renowned scientist, professor and department chair of Geological Sciences at the University of Miami. Scores of other scientists, educators, leaders, specialists (government and non-governmental, local and national) also provide tremendous support and expertise, as does CLEO’s staff, strong Board of Directors, Advisory Council, Youth Task Force, and Volunteer Corps.