NOAA predicts sea levels could rise 6 feet by 2100

Experts worry rising waters could permanently flood parts of South Florida

Published On: Dec 10 2012 06:15:37 PM EST   Updated On: Dec 11 2012 12:22:07 PM EST

A National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study predicts that much of South Florida could be underwater by the year 2100.

Experts say the battered shoreline of Fort Lauderdale and widespread damage left by Hurricane Sandy is proof urban flooding is becoming more frequent, and that global warming is a reality.

"This is a very serious problem," said Dr. Richard Dodge, an oceanographic professor at Nova Southeastern University.

Dodge believes the Earth's climate is warming and changing at an alarming pace.

"That's what becomes very scary because people can't plan for it or react to it very well," said Dodge.

The NOAA study predicts sea levels could rise anywhere from 8 inches to 6 feet.

READ: NOAA's study | Interactive map

"Eight inches probably won't put homes underwater but six feet probably would," said Dodge. "It's a guessing game of how fast it's gonna happen and when it's gonna happen."

Adding 3 feet of rising water would make Miami Beach virtually disappear, and 6 feet would permanently flood inland many comminutes like Doral and Hialeah Gardens.

"There's no way to stop it unless you build levees and dykes," said Dodge.

Dodge said rising CO2 gases are helping to heat the climate and melting ice sheets in the Antarctic, causing sea levels to rise.

The effects could also wipe out Florida's coral reefs, a $6 billion industry in the state.

"Corals are fixed on the bottom and they like light so if it's too much water, they'll be too dark, but in the short-term, it's the temperature that's the problem," said Dodge.