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Wash Post seeks to blame ‘climate change’ for Miami building collapse – ‘Tied to sea level rise’ – ‘Mother Earth comes back, & the ocean comes back, & takes it’

Before condo collapse, rising seas have long pressured Miami coastal properties

Authorities and scientists say it’s too soon to say whether rising seas played a role in the fall of Champlain Towers South

By Joshua Partlow, Darryl Fears, Jim Morrison and Jon Swaine

June 25, 2021 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

WaPo Excerpt: The 12-story condo tower that crashed down early Thursday near Miami Beach was built on reclaimed wetlands and is perched on a barrier island facing an ocean that has risen about a foot in the past century due to climate change. Experts on sea level rise and climate change caution that it is too soon to speculate if rising seas helped destabilize the oceanfront condo. … 

But it’s already clear that South Florida has been on the front lines of sea level rise and that the impacts of climate change on the infrastructure of the region — from septic systems to aquifers to shoreline erosion — will be a management problem for years to come. 

Wdowinski, whose findings were first reported by USA Today, cautioned that it was not clear whether the subsidence he found was connected to the building’s collapse. “It appears to be something very localized to one building, so I would think the problem was more likely to be related to the building itself,” he said. … 

The mix of swelling groundwater and tidal cycles juiced by climate change mean coastal buildings and their concrete foundations spend more time in water than they did in the past, said Albert Slap, the chief executive of RiskFootprint, a Boca Raton, Fla.-based company that assesses buildings’ vulnerability to hazards such as storm surge and flooding.

“This is a tragic, devastating event, and it could be a canary-in-the-coal-mine type event,” he said. “It’s not just one building. This could be something that could affect other buildings.” …

Harold R. Wanless, a professor at the University of Miami and an expert on sea level rise, cautioned that there are too many other possible explanations for the condo collapse to speculate if sea level rise played a role in the tragedy. But investigators needed to get to the bottom of that, he said. “We’ve got to find out what it is,” he said. “Because it makes living or working in high rises very unattractive right now. Why did this happen?”

Another Surfside official, Commissioner Eliana R. Salzhauer, also questioned whether the land underneath the building had been compromised. “I think this is all tied to sea level rise and our overdevelopment,” she said. “And Mother Earth comes back, and the ocean comes back, and takes it.”



Palm Beach Post: ‘Climate change can play a role’ in Miami building collapse  – Excerpt: Some building experts wondered Thursday if that kind of environmental assault supercharged by climate change could have played a role in the catastrophic collapse at the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Fla.

“Sea level rise does cause potential corrosion and if that was happening, it’s possible it could not handle the weight of the building,” said Zhong-Ren Peng, professor and Director of University of Florida’s International Center for Adaptation Planning and Design. “I think this could be a wakeup call for coastal developments.” …


“Climate change can play a role,” said Atorod Azizinamini, chair of Florida International University’s College of Engineering. “It can cause settlement of the ground with sea level rise, and corrosion.”