In Fall 2014, university and high school students at Florida International University’s Biscayne Bay Campus launched an effort to measure possible flooding on King Tide Day (Oct. 9) on Miami Beach, beginning with a sea level rise rally at 9 a.m. on Sept. 29, 2014 — events hosted by eyesontherise.org, a collaboration of four journalism professors at FIU, hundreds of college and high school students, and a dozen Miami area scientists, media and technology professionals.
“King Tide Day presents us with a unique opportunity to measure and report on the impact of sea level rise in Florida and beyond,” said Dr. Raul Reis, Dean of FIU’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. “This event organized by eyesontherise.org reflects FIU’s commitment to positioning ourselves at the forefront of climate change studies.”
Along with MAST @ FIU BBC – a Miami-Dade County Public School that is focused on issues of marine science and the environment and housed at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami – the Sept. 29 event inside the WUC theater at BBC featured workshops in which high school students and FIU students from the School of Journalism and Mass Communication to prepared for an Oct. 9 citizen science event on Miami Beach.
The Oct. 9 event featured nearly 50 high school and 20 college students who used sensors to measure the salinity, quality, and depth of flood waters on King Tide Day, the day when tides are the highest around the world and which have, in the past, led to massive flooding throughout parts of South Florida.
Water samples and data gathered on Oct. 9 were used by MAST students throughout Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 to conduct classroom experiments. The Oct. 9 event also included FIU students and faculty who used boats and vehicles to capture high-resolution images of the Miami Beach coastline, in some instances using helium balloons to make aerial photographs.
“Our students are excited about their involvement in this project,” said Dr. Matthew Welker, principal of MAST @ FIU BBC said before the events. “They recognize the important work that is being accomplished by people who recognize the threat that is posed by sea level rise and they want to use their enthusiasm and energy to help make a difference now rather than later when it may be too late.”
The Sept. 29 rally that announced and launched these initiatives included more than 190 students, educators from the Climate Leadership Engagement Opportunities (CLEO) Institute, and representatives of the local tech community.