New reports have uncovered the worrying fact that New York City more frequently faces major flood risk due to the impact of climate change on sea level and the intensity of tropical storms. Hurricanes will become more powerful, and their strength will hurl the high waters over the walls.
- The likelihood of floods has shifted from once in 500 years, to once in 25 years
- Nearly 90% of sea level rising is blamed on human activity
- Surges are influenced by both the sea levels and the intensity of storms, both of which are heightened by climate change
Hurricane Sandy hit Manhattan on October 20th, 2012, and most of the city’s transportation tunnels were flooded in consequence. The strong storm surge managed to breach the walls of the southern part of Manhattan, at Battery Park. It was previously thought to be ‘once in a generation’ witnessed event, but reports have it that it might be more common than that.
By using reports that date as far back as the 1850s and simulations of the impacts climate change has done to our environment, scientists have estimated that New York City could potentially see a major flood every 25 years. Older suggestions have been that such a even the more milder forms could occur only once in 500 years.
The research team used proxy sea-level records, climate models, and sea-rising simulations that told the tale of storms and surges in prehistoric eras across the North Atlantic. It helped gather a better understanding of what the future holds.
They estimated that the rising sea level has lifted the height of surges by 2 millimeters per year, and 90% of the blame is placed on man-induced climate change that has led to the melting of ice caps in polar regions. This has only exacerbated the problem and will lead to harsher storms and more frequent floods.
According to professor of meteorology from Penn State, Michael Mann, the issue is making itself worse, as the sea levels are rising because of climate change, but it also appears to cause more intense tropical storms. This will further lead to more tragic floods, and will occur more often than believed before.
It has been suggested that the sea level will rise by as much as 6 feet by the end of the century.
Areas such as Long Island, Staten Island, and low-laying areas of Manhattan will be severely affected. The researchers have noted that other regions outside of the United States might see to the same consequences. With time, flood heights will continue to rise, according to one of the researchers, Andrea Reed.
The likelihood of a storm at the magnitude of Hurricane Sandy used to be once every 3,000 years. Now, that kind of tragic and powerful event of nature might be witnessed “at least once in a lifetime”.
Image source: wsj.com