Rising seas and structures cause New York City subsidence

New research from the University of Rhode Island and the U.S. Geological Survey has found that New York City is sinking at a rate of 1 to 2 millimeters per year while sea levels rise. The study shows that the pressure from New York City’s massive buildings and skyscrapers is causing the city to be more susceptible to sinking further into the ocean. Some areas in the metropolis were found to be subsiding much faster when scientists modeled the subsidence caused by the pressure that these structures exert on the Earth. Parts of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island all showed signs of subsidence. Sea level rise and increasing storm intensity also contribute to the gradual sinking of land.

The research indicates that increasing construction densification and sea level rise imply increasing inundation hazard. The point of the paper is to raise awareness that every additional high-rise building constructed at coastal, river, or lakefront settings could contribute to future flood risk, and that mitigation strategies may need to be included. The study's researchers say that building mass can be factored into measurements as a cause of subsidence on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States.

Global sea level projections show "a clear threat to coastal cities," the study states, with an expected increase worldwide of 7.9 to 23.6 inches by 2050. On U.S. coastline, sea levels are projected to rise 10-12 inches, on average, by 2050, according to a 2022 report released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. New York is emblematic of growing coastal cities all over the world that are observed to be subsiding, meaning there is a shared global challenge of mitigation against a growing inundation hazard.


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