Impacts of Sea Level Rise and Storms on Manhattan

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GIS Level:
  • Advanced
Geographic Scale:
  • Local
Target Audience:
  • Career-Workforce
  • Higher Ed
New York City NY

Throughout the twentieth century, the rise of sea level contributed to increased coastal inundation, erosion, and ecosystem losses, but with considerable local and regional variation due to other factors. According to the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC 2007), coastal areas will be even more vulnerable in the near future, with continuing rise in sea level, more frequent and larger storms, increased storm surges, and more. One influential and densely populated city in the North American coastal zone is New York City, with a population of nearly 8.5 million. Surrounded by water and experiencing a major hurricane about every 75 years (Naparstek 2005), the city has cause for alarm. In 1893, a hurricane devastated New York City. What would be the impact of a major hurricane today? Further, what does a projected continuing rise in sea level mean to a city whose highest point is 265.5 feet above sea level? How much of one borough, Manhattan, could be underwater in the year 2100 due strictly to rising sea levels? This lesson is part of the Spatialabs series.

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