Higher Sea Levels Due To Climate Change Could Flood NYC By 2100

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New climate report says expect hot summers in New York City in the near future

The New York City Panel on Climate Change says it going to get a lot hotter in the Big Apple by 2100, and coastal flooding is also likely to become a major problem as global warming leads to six feet higher sea levels along the Atlantic seaboard. The NYC Panel on Climate Change is an independent body including several climate scientists that produces an annual report for the city.

The new report highlighted that New York City could see a 6-foot increase in sea levels under the worst-case scenario, an estimate that was that was revised upwards substantially from previous estimates of 2 to 4 feet at worst.

More on the NYC Panel on Climate Change Report

There were also new estimates for future NYC temperatures, with the panel anticipating an 8.8°F average temperature increase and heat waves three times as often by the 2080s.

The report pointed out that temperatures in Central Park moved up at a rate of 0.3°F per decade from 1900 to 2013, for a total 3.4°F rise, but the panel expects it to get much hotter soon, with an increase of 4.1 to 5.7°F by the 2050s and 5.3 to 8.8°F by the 2080s.

Extreme rain events are also projected to increase, with about 150% more extreme events per year likely by the 2080s.

Also of note, many coastal communities, including much of Staten Island and low-lying areas of Brooklyn and Queens, will be in jeopardy, with major storms probably moving local beaches and coastlines. NYC has already unloaded 26,000 linear feet of sand along Staten Island’s shorelines over the last few years, but that is just a drop in the bucket compared to future storm preparation and land reclamation expenses.

The report is designed to assist New York City authorities in planning for climate change and global warming. The Big Apple has set a goal of cutting greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, and a series of projects are underway to harden the city’s infrastructure.

The report also attempts to prod the Federal Emergency Management Agency into revising its 2013 preliminary flood insurance rate maps to reflect the panel’s conclusion that new projections will roughly double the areas likely to be affected by a 100-year flood.

For the 500-year flood, new sea-level-rise estimates by 2100 increase the affected areas by 50 percent compared with FEMA’s 2013 estimates, the panel said.

Comments from the Natural Resources Defense Council

Kim Knowlton of the Natural Resources Defense Council and a co-author of the report’s chapter on public health, noted the report extends climate research out to 2100 for the first time.

Knowlton continued to say that FEMA should take a very close look at the report to avoid another disaster like when Superstorm Sandy hit in late 2012. She points out that around 300,000 people were flooded by Sandy despite being outside of FEMA’S flood-risk zone.

She also praised the new maps in the report. “They include more of the available science on climate change.”

Knowlton also commented that she is “optimistic” NYC mayor de Blasio will take the projections as a mandate for change, even though his popularity among the environmental community is low as many believe the progressive mayor has focused more on social issues like income inequality and race relations.

“What the city has on paper are fantastic plans,” she noted. “New York City is a world leader on [climate change]. This mayor has climate change in his sights.”

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