Flooding could hit New York every five years within the next three decades, according to a new scientific study.
Rising sea levels could mean that floods of 2.25 metres or more, which used to strike the New York City area roughly once every 500 years before 1800, and which occur roughly every 25 years now, could happen once every five years between 2030 and 2045.
The study primarily blames the predicted change on sea-level rise caused by global warming.
“This is kind of a warning,” said Andra Garner, a Rutgers University scientist and study co-author. “How are we going to protect our coastal infrastructure?”
The researchers based their analysis on multiple models that factored in predictions for sea level rise and possible changes in the path of future hurricanes.
“The idea is this kind of study we hope will provide information that people making those kinds of decisions can use,” Garner said.
“We know that when Sandy hit in 2012, of course, subways, tunnels flooded, power was knocked out, parts of the city were just really devastated so studies like this provide some warning.”
The researchers said there is scientific consensus that global sea level will rise in the coming centuries, although it is not certain how high. They cautioned that sea-level rise at New York City could exceed eight feet by the end of the century if, in a high-emissions future, the West Antarctic ice sheet rapidly melts.
The study expects about 12.7 centimetres to 27.9 centimetres of sea-level rise likely in New York City between 2000 and 2030.
The study examined sea level rise through the year 2300.
Other researchers included scientists from Penn State University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton University, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, the University of Massachusetts Amherst and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.