Communicating and Acting on Climate Change

Hallandale Beach, Florida

Featured image for the project, Communicating and Acting on Climate Change


Hallandale Beach operates a Green Initiatives Program within its Department of Public Works to provide sustainability-related information and programs to residents and employees. Most of the City’s Green Initiatives work focuses on Water and Energy Conservation and Recycling. A main impetus for the water conservation focus includes the loss of 6 out of 8 of the City’s freshwater wells to saltwater intrusion in the past decade. In 2018, the City adopted the Sustainability Action Plan which includes short-term and long-term projects to help the City increase its sustainability and resiliency between now and 2040.


Recently, the City has begun to direct its attention to climate change and resilience. In 2011, Broward County conducted a vulnerability assessment of Hallandale Beach’s risks to one and two feet sea-level rise. In 2017, the City partnered with the South Florida Regional Planning Council to conduct a small scale vulnerability assessment which focused on potential compound flooding related to Category 1 storm surge and one and two feet of sea-level rise. Also in 2017 Hallandale Beach participated in the Resilience Dialogues  to discuss local risks from with sea level rise, how to communicate with and convey these risks to stakeholders, how to address beach erosion and saltwater intrusion, and how to finance future resiliency efforts. The City is awaiting notice of award for a Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant which will facilitate the City conducting an independent vulnerability assessment of climate hazards including changes in precipitation, a larger range of sea-level rise, and extreme heat.

About the Community

Hallandale Beach, Florida is a beachfront community located in Broward County Florida, just north of Miami-Dade County. It is home to a large financial district, and entertainment venues including Gulfstream Park (used for horse racing) and The Big Easy Casino. The city has a population of approximately 39,000 people and is one of the fastest growing communities in the Greater Miami Area due, in part, to its popularity among retirees. The community has large populations of Spanish, Russian, Haitian Creole, and French speakers.


The scientist will work with Alyssa Jones Wood, Green Initiatives Coordinator for the City of Hallandale Beach. Alyssa is the city employee who works on sustainability and resilience full-time. She implements the city’s Sustainability Action Plan, encourages residents to conserve natural resources, and makes recommendations related to climate change resiliency. She also collaborates with individuals throughout other departments and supports various initiatives to improve sustainability awareness.

Project Team


Ashley Smyth is an Assistant Professor of Biogeochemistry in the Department of Soil and Water Sciences at the Tropical Research and Education Center, University of Florida. She uses field observations and laboratory manipulation experiments to understand how environmental change and disturbance alter the physical structure and ecosystem functions of estuarine and coastal ecosystems. Her research bridges the gap between theory and application in order to increases public awareness of the environmental challenges that face South Florida. Before joining the Tropical Research and Education Center, Ashley was a postdoc at the University of Kansas and a David H. Smith Conservation Fellow at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. She has a Ph.D. in Marine Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.



Josh Papacek is a recent PhD graduate in Soil and Water Sciences from the University of Florida. His research focused on recent declines in water quality, shifts in harmful algal bloom occurrence, and nitrogen biogeochemistry in the northern Indian River Lagoon. He is more broadly interested in the preservation and protection of wetlands and water resources. During graduate school, he also became interested in communicating science to the public and policy makers and became part of AGU’s new Voices for Science program. Josh is currently a coordinator for a higher education union in Miami, Florida but still participates in coastal and wetland science and outreach in his spare time.