Rising Seas Called Imminent Danger Here
By Mary Frost
Buyers of waterfront property in Brooklyn may want to do a little more research before they plunk down that deposit.
A report released last week says the risk of flooding during storms in coastal areas across the U.S. is increasing faster than thought due to a rise in sea levels caused by global warming.
Brooklyn is ranked as the second most vulnerable county in New York State in terms of total population exposed to flooding risk (the first is Nassau County).
In “Surging Seas,” researchers at Climate Central say that a new method of calculating flood risk shows the rise in sea level will combine with storm surge to raise waters at least 4 feet above the local high-tide line by 2030, and 5 feet by 2050.
In Brooklyn, roughly 60,906 people — 2.4 percent of the population — live within the 4-foot line. Flooding to this level would affect 25,166 homes and 2,838 acres of land along Brooklyn’s waterfront, including most of Coney Island and low-lying areas in Flatlands, Sunset Park, Red Hook, along the banks of the Gowanus Canal, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, DUMBO and Brooklyn Bridge Park.
While the ongoing rise in sea level has been understood for some time (New York state has even established a State Sea Level Rise Task Force), the report is the first to analyze how the sea level rise is compounding the risk from storm surges.
Sea levels have risen roughly 8 inches since 1900. According to the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, ocean levels will likely rise between 3 to 4½ feet by 2100. This figure does not take storm surge into account.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, the rate of rise appears to be accelerating mainly because ocean waters have warmed and expanded, and larger volumes of melted water from glaciers are now reaching the sea.
Climate Central projections suggest that the Northeast Corridor in particular could see an extra few inches of sea level rise over the next few decades, due to a slowing of the Gulf Stream current.
At the same time as the sea level rises, data compiled by FEMA suggests that we can expect more severe storms in response to warmer ocean temperatures.
“Sea level rise is not some distant problem that we can just let our children deal with. The risks are imminent and serious,” said Climate Central report lead author Dr. Ben Strauss in a release. “Just a small amount of sea level rise, including what we may well see within the next 20 years, can turn yesterday’s manageable flood into tomorrow’s potential disaster. Global warming is already making coastal floods more common and damaging.”
Local flood maps can be seen at http:// sealevel.climatecentral.org.
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