And, it's not just ocean rise causing it. It's the sinking ground from the weight of all those buildings.
Recent research has revealed that the city is sinking under the weight of its iconic skyscrapers, exacerbating the risk of coastal flooding. With sea levels rising due to climate change, this issue demands urgent attention and a strategic plan for adaptation.
A study conducted by the United States Geological Survey has shed light on the alarming sinking rate of New York City. The city as a whole is sinking at a rate of approximately 1-2mm per year, but certain areas, including lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and northern Staten Island, are experiencing an even faster rate of 2.75mm annually. This subsidence, caused by a combination of factors, including the weight of buildings and the nature of the underlying soil, poses significant challenges for the city's future.
New York city is sinking faster than expected. Eventually, people will be migrating into other parts of the country, causing even more problems.
Coastal Flood Risk
New York City's susceptibility to coastal flooding is well-documented, and the sinking phenomenon adds a new layer of concern. The rise in sea levels resulting from climate change compounds the existing risks. The New York City Panel on Climate Change warns that the city's sea levels have been increasing at a faster pace than the global average, rising by approximately 1.2 inches per decade compared to the global rate of 0.5 inches. Projections indicate that by 2050, sea levels could rise by eight to 30 inches, depending on global efforts to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate migration is a growing concern around the world. And with it, extra pressures and strains are put on the cities they migrate too with all those extra people.
Building for the Future
The implications of this research are profound, particularly for the construction of new buildings in coastal, riverfront, and lakefront areas. The study emphasizes that each additional high-rise built in these vulnerable locations could contribute to future flood risks. The city must implement adaptive strategies to mitigate these challenges and ensure sustainable urban development.
When land sinks, or "subsides", it's what scientist call "Subsidence". And subsidence is happening all over world. Not just due to the weight of buildings, but taking water out of the ground at accelerated rates.
Beyond New York City
While New York City is at the forefront of this issue, it is not alone in facing the consequences of sinking land. The research highlights that major cities worldwide, excluding Antarctica, are experiencing subsidence. The combination of urban densification and rising sea levels poses an increasing inundation hazard for coastal cities globally. As a result, approximately 800 million people are expected to reside in coastal cities where sea levels could rise by over a foot, leading to potentially devastating economic costs.
A Global Perspective
A separate study conducted by the University of Rhode Island analyzed the sinking rates of coastal cities across the world. The findings indicated that urban areas are sinking faster than sea levels are rising in most cases. Particularly in Asia, the sinking rates are alarming. For instance, parts of Jakarta, Indonesia, are subsiding at a rate of 20mm per year. This research underscores the need for comprehensive global strategies to address subsidence and adapt to rising sea levels.
New York City finds itself at a critical juncture, grappling with the complex challenges posed by sinking land and rising sea levels. As one of the world's most iconic cities, it must confront these issues head-on to safeguard its future and protect its residents. The importance of implementing adaptive measures, sustainable urban planning, and global collaboration cannot be overstated. By acknowledging and addressing these concerns, New York City can pave the way for other coastal cities to confront the rising tides and build resilient communities capable of weathering the storms of a changing climate.