New York City is sinking, and that’s partly due to the extraordinary weight of its towering buildings, according to new research suggesting sea level rise will increase the risk of flooding in the metropolis.
According to the researchers, the Big Apple is the city that never sleeps, but it is also the one that sinks on average between one and two millimeters per year. In some areas of the city, it is drowning twice as much.
The subsidence magnifies the effects of sea level rise, which is rising at nearly twice the global average in New York as the world’s glaciers melt and seawater expands due to global warming. From 1950 to today, water around the city has risen nearly 9 inches, and by the end of this century, severe storm surge flooding could be four times higher due to a combination of sea level rise and climate-enforced storms. Change.
“New York City’s densely concentrated population of 8.4 million people faces varying degrees of flood risk,” wrote the researchers in the study published in the journal Earth’s Future.
The weight of 140 million elephants
According to the authors, many other coastal cities will share New York’s risks as the climate crisis worsens. “The combination of tectonic and anthropogenic subsidence, sea level rise and increased storm intensity represent a growing problem for coastal and coastal regions,” he says.
This trend is linked to the size of the infrastructure built in New York. According to researchers’ calculations, the city’s structures, including the famous Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building, weigh about 760 billion kg, which is equivalent to about 140 million elephants.
This enormous weight pushes down a jumble of different materials found in New York’s soil. Many large buildings sit on solid bedrock, such as shale, but there is also a mixture of sand and clay, which adds to the naturally occurring subsidence along the US East Coast. The massive glaciers of the last Ice Age as a response to Earth’s retreat.
High risk of flooding
“It’s not something to panic about immediately, but it’s an ongoing process that increases flood risk,” says Tom Parsons, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey who is leading the investigation. “The softer the ground, the greater the pressure caused by the buildings. Not that it was a mistake to build such large buildings in New York, but you have to keep in mind that every time you build something there, you push the ground a little.” and push down.”
New York was hit by Hurricane Sandy in 2012, which caused flooding in parts of the metro, causing power outages and widespread damage. In 2021, Hurricane Ida flooded parts of the city and drowned many people. According to scientists, the effect of global warming has increased these two meteorological phenomena.
New York and other coastal cities “have to start planning for it,” Parsons says. “Repeated exposure to seawater can corrode steel and make buildings unstable, something we obviously don’t want. Flooding also kills people and that’s probably the biggest concern “