CISC Director Dr. Bill Solecki and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies Senior Research Scientist Cynthia Rosenzweig co-authored a response to today’s New York Times “Room for Debate” section on sea gates, sea walls and other proposed solutions to sea level rise in the aftermath of “Super Storm” Sandy:

“Since 2001, when “Climate Change and a Global City” was published, climate scientists have been highlighting the vulnerability of the New York metropolitan region to coastal flooding in light of rising seas. Over the past 100 years, data from the tide gauge at the Battery in Lower Manhattan reveal that the region has already experienced close to a foot (9 to 10 inches) of sea level rise.

“Climate Change Adaptation in New York City: Building a Risk Management Response,” a 2010 report, projected that the sea level would rise two to five feet by the 2080s. The higher projection includes the continuing effects of the rapid ice melt now occurring in polar regions. These projections imply that more frequent and more extensive coastal flooding is in store for the New York area, whatever the strength of any oncoming storms.

Now that New York has experienced devastating coastal flooding, how can we recover and rebuild in a way that will enable infrastructural resilience to inevitable future storms, while minimizing a loss of life and livelihoods? Both “hard” engineering interventions – like sea walls and innovative subway and tunnel closings – and “soft” approaches – like reconstructed wetlands and smart designs for coastal communities – are needed.”

Read the full report and other responses, here.

Cynthia Rosenzweig is a senior research scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. William Solecki is director of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College. They are co-chairmen of the New York City Panel on Climate Change.


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