New York is a city on the water. For hundreds of years, its rivers and harbor have worked to its advantage, bringing it speedy transportation and pleasant temperatures.
The next couple hundred years may not be as smooth sailing. Global warming, caused by the release of carbon-dioxide pollution into the atmosphere, will cause the seas to rise and the storms to intensify around the city. A new study from an all-star list of climate scientists attempts to estimate how a few of climate change’s symptoms—higher seas, large storm surge, and more intense hurricanes—will intersect in New York over the next 300 years.
It isn’t pretty. Sea-level rise will make every tropical cyclone that hits New York more likely to release damaging floods. For instance, storm floods of nearly seven-and-a-half feet once occurred only a couple times per millennium. In today’s somewhat warmed climate, 7.5-foot floods are projected to happen every 25 years. By 2030, these floods will occur every five years.
New York City has experienced 7.5-foot floods several times in the past decade. Superstorm Sandy loosed 10- or 11-foot floods on much of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, killing 43 people and inundating more than 88,000 buildings.