Sea levels locally may be rising more quickly than had been anticipated. The estimates for Tampa Bay have just gone up.
Scientists monitoring Tampa Bay have updated the most conservative estimate for the expected rise in the bay during this century. That means they're no longer considering the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's prediction of a 2-foot rise. The conservative estimate now is from three to 3 1/2 feet above current sea levels.
Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp is a member of the Hillsborough Environmental Protection Commission.
"I do think this is the most critical thing facing us for a century to come and something we can't move too quickly on or talk enough about or think enough about how we move forward on," she said.
The high-end predictions from NOAA are eight to 9 feet above current sea level. That would mean large coastal areas of the three counties that front on the bay would be under water.
The Tampa Bay Climate Advisory Science Panel, which produced the report, includes members from federal and local agencies, universities and Florida Sea Grant. Maya Burke of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program gave the updates to the Hillsborough County Commission.