New projections from the National Weather Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predict that if carbon emissions aren’t rapidly reduced and climate change continues on its current pace, a Sandy-like storm in the year 2100 would leave coastal areas of Manhattan, Brooklyn and other boroughs completely underwater. New York would be more vulnerable to future hurricanes because, as a draft report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows, sea levels could rise by as much as six feet by the end of the century.
Climate change will continue to be costly for New York. Hurricane Sandy caused $19 billion in damages, and a new study from Nature Climate Change concludes that the Big Apple faces around $2 billion in annual losses from flooding by 2050. To battle some of these costs, outgoing NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has proposed spending $19.5 billion on a climate change defense plan.
Sustainable design along New York’s waterfront will be key to preventing climate-related flooding. Soon, urban planners will have flood maps that take into account rising sea levels thanks to a mapping project from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The new interactive maps will display what New York’s floodplain will look like at different points in the future depending on different climate scenarios.
Using these maps, city and state planners could make adjustments on where to place development projects, but despite this new capability, there’s no denying that livable areas of NYC will continue to shrink if sea levels keep rising.