February 27, 2006

New York Academy of Sciences Lecture: Rising Seas and Storms; Consequences for New York City

Posted in other groups and events at 1:33 pm by cuenv-main

The New York Academy of Sciences is holding a lecture by Vivien Gornitz from the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (the lab above Tom’s Restaurant) tomorrow, Tuesday 2/28. The topic is Rising Seas and Storms: Consequences for New York City, and is at the NYAS building at 2 East 63rd St (between Madison & 5th Ave) from 7:00 to 8:00 PM. The cost to attend is $10. Even if you don’t go, you may find the lecture description an interesting read:

Accumulating evidence points to the anthropogenic-induced buildup of atmospheric greenhouse gases as a major contributor to the observed global warming trend. The warming signal is penetrating deep into the world’s oceans, raising sea level an average of 0.4 mm/yr since the 1950s. Mountain glaciers are rapidly receding; the coastal Greenland ice sheet and parts of the West Antarctic ice sheet are thinning as well, also elevating the oceans. As a result, global sea level has been rising ~1.7 to 1.8 mm/yr over the past half century.

With nearly 2400 km of shoreline, New York City will be especially vulnerable to the consequences of sea level rise and can anticipate an increased frequency of coastal flooding, affecting significant sections of the financial district, lower Manhattan, Coney Island, the Rockaways, and low-lying Staten Island neighborhoods. Severe storms can disrupt and shut down the metropolitan transportation system. Portions of the three major airports—JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark Airports, a number of highways, most area rail and tunnel entrances, and other important infrastructure lie at elevations of 3 meters or less. The storm surge from a category 3 hurricane on a track slightly west of the city could easily surpass this height in many places, even at present without additional sea level rise. This region has experienced several category 3 hurricanes during the 20th century. The duration and number of intense tropical cyclones has already begun to increase.

What of the future? Computer simulations of sea level rise for the New York City metropolitan area suggest increases of 0.25 to ~1 m by the end of this century. The implications of this and possible adaptation strategies will be discussed further.

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