How Rising Seas Threaten the NYC Metro Area

A report from the Regional Plan Association maps out what might happen under 1, 3, and 6 feet of sea level rise. In the worst cases, several dense and populated regions are affected.

1 minute read

December 26, 2016, 5:00 AM PST

By Philip Rojc @PhilipRojc

Aerial views during an Army search and rescue mission show damage from Hurricane Sandy to the New Jersey coast, Oct. 30, 2012.

Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen / Wikimedia Commons

Using methodology developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, RPA's study "outlines the impact that 1, 3 and 6 feet of sea level rise could have on the [New York] region and the immediate actions that policymakers and residents should take to protect our region's most vulnerable places."

While beach communities along Long Island and the Jersey Shore often come to mind, flooding could impact populated areas throughout greater New York. Emily Thenhaus writes, "The communities of the Rockaways, Jamaica Bay and Coney Island are among the most threatened in New York City. With 6 feet of sea level rise, a possibility as soon as early next century, much of the Rockaway peninsula could be underwater." 

Rising seas may also threaten the New Jersey Meadowlands if steps aren't taken. JFK airport is mostly protected from the brunt of the floods, but LaGuardia's runways are vulnerable. 

There's more to come from RPA on the region's environmental future. "The study is a component of RPA's fourth regional plan, which will be released in 2017 and will put forth policies and proposals to mitigate climate change and confront its effects."

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