In a 2020 study, FIU geophysicist Shimon Wdowinski examined land subsidence and sea level in Miami Beach, Fla. and Norfolk, Va. Using available satellite data from 1993 to 1999, Wdowinski discovered land subsidence in Miami Beach and in an area of nearby Surfside, Fla. where the 12-story Champlain Towers South stood. Below, Wdowinski shares his data and explains his research.

An expert in space geodesy, natural hazards and sea level rise, Wdowinski is part of the FIU Institute of Environment and the Department of Earth and Environment. He holds a master’s degree in engineering sciences and a Ph.D. in geophysics from Harvard University. He also holds a master’s degree in geology from Hebrew University.


Shimon Wdowinski is an expert in space geodesy, natural hazards and sea level rise. His research has focused on the development and usage of space geodetic techniques that can detect very precisely small movements of the Earth’s surface. Wdowinski recently published a paper analyzing land subsidence in Miami Beach using space-borne radar data acquired between 1993-1999 identifying land subsidence in the area of the catastrophic collapse at Surfside. Wdowinski has successfully applied these techniques to study tectonic plate motion, earthquakes, land subsidence, sinkhole activities, wetland hydrology, climate change, and sea level rise. He believes this space-based technology could now be used to detect vulnerable buildings. He is currently spearheading research supported by NASA examining whether powerful hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones can trigger earthquakes.  



Recorded on June 24, 2021.