Nicholas Olivera/ Contributing Writer
Sewage drains are strategically placed around parking lots at the Biscayne Bay Campus, but they barely prevent the area from turning into a swamp after a day of heavy rainfall.
“What’s in that puddle? Is it salt water? Is it feces coming from the sewer? Is it gasoline? Petrol?” says Dr. Robert Gutsche, professor of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
The puddles formed by overflowing sewage pose a health hazard, and a South Florida based sea level rise project wants to inform residents of this and other potential risks.
On King Tide Day, occurring between Oct. 8 and Oct. 9, ocean tides will rise the highest out of the year — with Miami Beach waters rising the highest in 50 years this time around.
And on Thursday, Oct. 9, Eyes on the Rise, a project ran by Dr. Gutsche and his SJMC colleagues, will host a day activities in relation to on sea level rise and climate change.
Eyes on the Rise is a project funded by a Challenge Fund for Innovation in Journalism Education, which provided a $35,000 grant to Dr. Gutsche, Kate MacMillin, Susan Jacobson and Juliet Pinto.
Partnering with the CLEO Institute, this group of professors will educate and raise awareness to South Florida communities on the consequences of rising seas.
Community members and about 50 Maritime and Science Technology Academy students will also partake in the project.
“Students of FIU and MAST at FIU are coming on board with this event because, quite frankly, they are going to have to deal with the problems of tomorrow, says Matthew Welker, principle of MAST Academy.
For both FIU and MAST Academy faculty involved with the King Tide Day project, participation is not considered a small task.
Participants will measure water quality, depth of potential floods and other features characterized on King Tide Day, using sensors provided by the CLEO Institute.
“We want them to be acutely aware of these concerns so that they could use their energy, their enthusiasm and their intellect to think about, and perhaps create solutions for problems that we don’t even understand yet,” says Welker.
Hear more of Dr. Welker had to say
It is this gathering and communicating of scientific information by everyday people that Eyes on the Rise wanted to achieve through the community-oriented project.
“It’s getting a lot more citizen scientists out into the environment instead of just having the one expert hydrologist,” says Dr. Gutsche.
“It’s educating all of us about ways that we can participate in creating open source data relating to science, and how journalists then can take that information from multiple sources and put it into some sort of usable narrative,” he said.