The issue of climate change and the subsequent rise in sea levels is one of the most pressing matters of our time. It is an ongoing process that will continue beyond our lifetimes. While it would take an extensive period for all the ice caps to melt, particularly West Antarctica, it is worth considering what would happen to Florida if the ice caps were to melt overnight.
Florida is well-known for its flat and low-lying landscape. Unfortunately, if you’re hoping to find mountains there, you won’t have much luck. The closest thing to a mountain near Florida is the Blue Ridge Mountains located in far northern Georgia, which is not close at all. However, if you’re looking for a destination that offers both mountains (volcanoes) and tropical beaches, Hawaii might be a better option for you.
The Two Ice Caps – Greenland and Antarctica
When it comes to the melting of the polar ice caps, there are two distinct scenarios that we need to consider. The first scenario involves the melting of all the ice sheets in Greenland, while the second scenario pertains to the melting of all the ice in Antarctica. At present, it is the Greenland ice sheet that is melting at a rapid pace, and this is indeed a cause for concern. However, if all the ice in Antarctica were to melt, the consequences would be truly catastrophic.
The majority of the freshwater ice on Earth is found in the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets. The Antarctic ice sheet is particularly massive, covering approximately 14 million square kilometers or 5.4 million square miles, which is roughly equivalent to the combined size of Mexico and the Lower 48 States. Meanwhile, the Greenland Ice Sheet is about three times the size of Texas.
Sheet of Ice Covers Antarctic Island:
- Size: 14 million sq. Km or 5.4 million Sq. Miles
- Volume: 30 Million Cubic Kilometers (7.2 Million Cubic Miles) Of Ice
- East Antarctica: So Massive It Has 80% of All The Ice On Earth
- West Antarctica: Much Smaller but More Vulnerable
The vast expanse of the Greenland ice sheet covers an area of approximately 660,000 square miles, making it the second-largest ice sheet in the world after Antarctica. The ice sheet is up to 2 miles thick in some places and contains enough ice to raise global sea levels by more than 20 feet if it were to melt entirely. However, the ice sheet is not melting at a uniform rate, with warmer temperatures causing some areas to melt faster than others.
- Size: 1.7 million sq. Km (656,000 Sq. miles)
- Volume: 2.8 Cubic Kilometers (0.68 Million Cubic Miles) Of Ice
- Covers: 80% of Greenland’s Surface
- Thickness: Generally More Than 2 km or 1.2 miles Thick
Here’s a related article that may interest you: “13 Alarming Images of Melting Glaciers (and 12 People Who Don’t Seem to Care)”.
Melting of The Greenland Ice Sheet
Even if all the ice in Greenland were to melt, Florida would still exist. However, the lowest-lying areas and the Florida Keys would be lost to the sea. In order to protect the coastal cities from flooding, it may be necessary to construct dikes similar to those found in the Netherlands, although many of the coastal cities would still be underwater. Unfortunately, much of Florida’s marshes and coastlines would be devastated and the state would be flooded. The Everglades would no longer exist. Despite all this, Florida would still remain.
“Greenland’s vast ice sheet is undergoing a surge in melting, with the amount of ice vanishing in a single day this week enough to cover the whole of Florida in two inches of water”
Should the ice in Greenland completely thaw, it could result in an approximate 6-meter (20-foot) or 7.2-meter (24-foot) rise in global sea levels. It’s unlikely that all of the world’s ice will melt within this century, largely due to West Antarctica. However, Greenland’s ice sheet may be nearing a tipping point, which would trigger an acceleration of melting.
- Greenland Sea Level Rise: 6-7.2 Meters or 20-24 Feet
- Mean Florida Elevation: 30 Meters or 100 Feet
If sea levels continue to rise, the Everglades as we know it may cease to exist. Currently, the Everglades only sit between 0-8 feet (2.4 meters) above sea level, and even the impressive Calusa-built shell mound on the Gulf Coast, which stands at 20 feet (6.1 meters), would be submerged.
It’s alarming to note that the Greenland Ice Sheet is rapidly melting, and the rate of melting is increasing. Shockingly, in just one day, the ice sheet has shed approximately 8.5 billion tons of ice and is currently losing ice at a pace of nearly one million tons per minute (as of 2019).
- Greenland’s Melting Season: From June To August
Here are the stats predicting that Florida will soon be underwater.
If All Ice Melted – The Antarctic Ice Sheets
The consequences of a complete melting of all the ice on earth would be nothing short of catastrophic. The UK would lose a significant portion of its landmass, the Caspian Sea would merge with the world’s oceans, and the Amazon Basin would be reduced to a shallow sea. Australia would be home to an inland sea, and Florida would be relegated to the annals of history.
If a catastrophic event were to occur, the entire Atlantic seaboard and Gulf Coast would be wiped out. San Francisco’s hills would be transformed into a cluster of islands while the Central Valley would revert to a giant bay or inland sea. The Gulf of California would extend northward beyond San Diego, or what used to be San Diego.
Florida’s highest peak, Britton Hill, stands at a mere 345 feet above sea level. However, if the world’s ice caps completely melted, sea levels would rise by a staggering 216 feet or 65 meters. In such a scenario, Florida would be reduced to a collection of hills that would become isolated islands.
Florida’s average elevation sits at a mere 100 feet or 30 meters, leaving it vulnerable to the effects of rising sea levels. This means that the capital city of Tallahassee, located in the heart of the state, with an elevation of 203 feet (62 meters), would also be at risk of being submerged.