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How Will Rising Seas Impact New York City?

Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and much of Long Island are terribly vulnerable to sea level rise and storm surge.

WNYC's Jim O'Grady has a great piece about the potential impacts of sea level rise and more intense storms on New York City. Give it a listen:


New York City's unique geography makes it particularly vulnerable to the storm surge created by big storms like hurricanes. With the Jersey shore stretching south from the city, and Long Island stretching east, a natural funnel is created for the storm surge that pushes ahead of a hurricane. New York City would take the brunt of any big surge and Long Island Sound looming to the northeast would just exacerbate the situation.

Here's a look at the vulnerability of different parts of the city and Long Island coast to storm surge of different intensities:



The threat is real enough that city planners are starting to take seriously some pretty extreme engineering solutions, like massive computer-controlled surge barriers that would clamp down and block out surging waters ahead of a hurricane.

The story calls to mind a public art project that our friend Eve Mosher created a few years ago. Mosher painted a blue line—the High Water Line—at the 10 foot elevation mark along New York City's waterfront, reminding people what's at stake locally as the world warms and seas rise.

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