Mayor to discuss prepping NYC for warming world

Jun 11, 2013 by Jennifer Peltz
In this May 30, 2013 file photo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg speaks at the Real Estate Board of New York, in New York. Bloomberg was due to talk Tuesday, June 11, 2013, about what to do about risks that Superstorm Sandy brought into stark relief. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

(AP)—The projections paint an unsettling picture of New York's future: a city where by the 2050s, 800,000 people could be living in a flood zone that would cover a quarter of the land, with temperatures steadily rising.

Facing those new projections of the on America's biggest city, Mayor was scheduled to talk Tuesday about what to do about risks that Sandy brought into stark relief when it devastated the East Coast last year.

"We have to look ahead and anticipate any and all future threats, not only from hurricanes and other but also from , heavy downpours and —many of which are likely to be longer and more intense in the years to come," an excerpt from the mayor's planned speech says.

Two top Bloomberg aides who oversaw the study underlying the speech, Seth Pinsky and Deputy Mayor Caswell Holloway, wouldn't hint Monday at what the suggestions would be, what they might cost or how they might be financed. Many key decisions likely will come after Bloomberg's third and final term ends this year.

Bloomberg said last winter the study would examine the pros and cons of building berms, dunes, levees and other coast-protection structures. But he has historically been cool to the idea of massive sea walls—and emphatic about not suggesting that people retreat from .

The recommendations will draw from updated predictions from the New York City Panel on Climate Change, a scientists' group convened by the city.

The average day could be 4 degrees to nearly 7 degrees Fahrenheit (2 to nearly 4 degrees Celsius) hotter by mid-century, the panel estimates in data Pinsky and Holloway discussed Monday. A once-in-a-century storm would likely spur a surge 5 feet (1.5 meters) or more higher than did Sandy, which sent a record 14-foot (4.2-meter) storm tide gushing into lower Manhattan.

And with local waters a foot to 2.5 feet (0.76 meters) higher than they are today, 8 percent of the city's coastline could see flooding just from high tides, the group estimates. Most of that coast is in a relatively undeveloped area near a bay.

City Hall, the state government and others have released warnings over the years about climate risks. The city has required some new developments in flood zones to be elevated and has restored wetlands as natural barriers, among other steps.

"Sandy, obviously, increased the urgency of dealing with this and the need to plan and start to take concrete steps," Holloway said.

The new projections echo 2009 estimates from the panel, but the timeframe for some upper-end possibilities has moved up from the 2080s to mid-century.

"The overall numbers are similar, but we have more compelling evidence now that (a more severe scenario from 2009) is looking like a more realistic possibility now," due to improved computer models and more evidence that some ice sheets are melting, said Radley Horton, a climate scientist with Columbia University's Earth Institute and a researcher with the city climate panel.

Scientists have reached a consensus on global warming but still debate how severe the effects will be.

Meanwhile, the Federal Emergency Management Agency released revisions Monday to proposed new flood zone maps for the city. About 218,000 people and 35,000 buildings are in the current once-in-100-year flood zone, drawn in the 1980s. The new maps roughly double those numbers, though the revision shifts about 5,800 structures from a subset called the V zone—the area expected to suffer the worst damage—to a less stringent zone.

A roughly two-year review is expected before new maps become official. They can affect building regulations and insurance.

Explore further: Weird weather lingers in Alaska's largest city

4.5 /5 (8 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Report: Fourth of NYC could be flood zone by 2050s (Update)

Jun 10, 2013

By the 2050s, more than 800,000 New York City residents could be living in a flood zone that would cover a quarter of the city's land and New Yorkers could sweat out as many 90-degree (32-Celsiu) days as is now normal for ...

Heat-related deaths in Manhattan projected to rise

May 19, 2013

Residents of Manhattan will not just sweat harder from rising temperatures in the future, says a new study; many may die. Researchers say deaths linked to warming climate may rise some 20 percent by the 2020s, ...

Recommended for you

New challenges for ocean acidification research

19 hours ago

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

Compromises lead to climate change deal

19 hours ago

Earlier this month, delegates from the various states that make up the UN met in Lima, Peru, to agree on a framework for the Climate Change Conference that is scheduled to take place in Paris next year. For ...

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

deatopmg
1 / 5 (13) Jun 11, 2013
All these lies in spite of the fact the world has stopped warming and may be cooling over the past 16 or so years. Therefore, this must be about money and control. It certainly isn't about the truth.

Bloomberg has zero integrity.
Neinsense99
4.1 / 5 (10) Jun 11, 2013
All these lies in spite of the fact the world has stopped warming and may be cooling over the past 16 or so years. Therefore, this must be about money and control. It certainly isn't about the truth.

Bloomberg has zero integrity.

Much more integrity than a politically-motivated anonymous commenter repeating tired old disproven falsehoods with the intent to deceive those that won't check.
deepsand
4.1 / 5 (14) Jun 12, 2013
All these lies in spite of the fact the world has stopped warming and may be cooling over the past 16 or so years.

The number of lies being told can easily be reduced by your ceasing to repeat yours, one which has been repeatedly debunked.
antigoracle
1 / 5 (7) Jun 13, 2013
The people of NY are about to be hoodwinked to the tune of 20 Billion while a chosen few become very wealthy.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.