New York’s “Big U” Climate Change Risk

 

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New York City, with a population fast approaching 9 million and vast cultural, historical, and financial resources, is fast approaching the danger zone for climate change. The city sits on a “Big U” shaped waterfront property.

The OECD ranked New York City among the 10 cities most vulnerable to rising sea levels with 2.9 million people and $2.1 trillion in assets exposed to storm surges by 2070 if sea levels keep rising.

Hurricane Sandy is an example of how unprepared that area is for disaster. Tempestuous winds downed trees and electric lines, smashing cars and homes. Walls of water overwhelmed barriers, wiped away homes, and crippled subway lines.

Within hours, thousands of New York City homes lost power. In the ensuing chaos, the city lost $25 billion in estimated business activity.

As oceans heat up, hurricanes like Sandy that originate in the Atlantic will become more intense. For each 1.8-degree-Fahrenheit increase in sea surface temperatures, as much as 18% more rain will fall during a hurricane, and storm winds could get about 8% stronger.

Rising seas have already increased water levels near New York City nearly 1 1/2 feet since the mid-1800s. As a result, dangerous waves are now 20 times more likely to overwhelm the Manhattan seawall than they were 170 years ago.

Via BusinessInsider