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A recent report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine warns that rising temperatures are threatening the Everglades, including changing rainfall patterns and accelerating sea-level rise. Sea water occupying the Everglades will endanger decades of work by a government program to reverse manmade damage to the ecosystem at the tip of Florida.

The federal, multibillion-dollar Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, authorized by Congress in 2000, was designed to redirect fresh water. Its goal was to reduce sea water incursion in a long-term effort to bring the tropical wetland ecosystem back to the way it looked in the early 20th century, before influxes of people to southern Florida drained much of it for development.

The region, known as the “river of grass”, is home to mangrove forests and cypress swamps housing alligators, orchids, storks and ibises, as well as endangered species such as the Florida panther. However, it has long struggled to recover from water diversions for agriculture, swelling communities and other forms of environmental degradation, such as fertilizer runoff.

Randall Parkinson, a coastal geologist for the Sea Level Solutions Center, said these patterns were likely to change how experts in South Florida are thinking about and proposing restoration projects.

“Someone has to decide how much water will it take to get them back to being able to keep pace with sea-level and how we can monitor that to know how to change that over time,” Parkinson said. “It would have been a huge challenge just to restore the Everglades if the climate and everything was in a steady state, but it’s not: it’s a moving target and it’s moving in the direction that increases the challenge.”

Read the full article on The Guardian.