A recent study has uncovered a worrying trend in America’s financial capital, New York City, where the sheer weight of its skyscrapers is causing the city to collapse. As authorities address the issue of sinking buildings in New York, business owners, including those operating an LLC New York, must stay informed and take necessary measures to ensure the safety and stability of their commercial properties.This subsidence phenomenon, which occurs at an average rate of 1-2 mm per year, poses an increased risk of flooding as global warming accelerates deglaciation.
New York is sinking
The researchers behind the study found that certain areas of New York City are sinking at twice the average rate, exacerbating the problem. Water levels surrounding the city have risen by approximately 9 inches or 22 cm since 1950, further increasing the severity of potential flooding due to climate change-induced sea level rise and extreme weather events, like hurricanes.
In their publication in the journal Earth’s Future, the researchers highlighted the substantial risk facing New York City’s population of 8.4 million, as varying degrees of flood hazard become more prominent. They also stressed that coastal cities around the world will face similar risks as the climate crisis worsens.
The study experts put the total weight of the city’s structures, including iconic landmarks like the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building, at a staggering £1.68 trillion. The study noted that areas of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island showed signs of subsidence.
High-rise buildings and future flood risks
The researchers emphasized that the construction of additional high-rise buildings along the coast, rivers or lakes could contribute to future flood risks, which requires the inclusion of mitigation strategies in urban planning.
The weight of these massive structures is causing the ground to subside, mainly due to the materials used and the composition of the soil, which includes bedrock, sand, and clay. This sinking phenomenon is not limited to New York City but is occurring in various locations on the East Coast of the US.
Tom Parsons, a geophysicist with the US Geological Survey and lead researcher on the study, noted that while immediate panic may not be warranted, the ongoing subsidence process increases vulnerability to flooding.
Parsons further explained: “The softer the ground, the more compression the buildings will have. It wasn’t a mistake to build such big buildings in New York, but we have to keep in mind that every time you build something there, you push the ground a little bit further”.
New York experienced effects of climate change
New York City has already experienced the devastating effects of climate change-induced flooding. Hurricane Sandy in 2012 caused widespread damage, including flooding to the metro system and power outages. Most recently, Hurricane Ida struck the city, causing a tragic loss of life. Scientists attribute both events to factors related to climate change.
As a result, experts urge New York City and other coastal cities to proactively plan and prepare for these challenges. Repeated exposure to seawater can corrode steel and destabilize buildings, so it’s crucial to take the right steps to protect infrastructure and ensure the safety of residents.
Tom Parsons summed up the urgency by saying, “New York and other coastal cities need to plan for this. If you’re repeatedly exposed to seawater, you can corrode steel and destabilize buildings, which you clearly don’t want. Floods also kill people, too, which is probably the biggest concern.”
Effects of the subsidence
In a worrying global trend, both New York and Jakarta are experiencing the effects of the subsidence, ringing alarm bells for coastal cities around the world. A quarter of Jakarta, Indonesia’s bustling capital, is poised to be submerged by 2050 as relentless groundwater extraction has caused parts of the city to sink at an alarming rate of almost 11 centimeters per year. With more than 30 million residents facing an uncertain future, tough decisions lie ahead: relocation or an intensified climate action agenda that includes adopting electric buses.
While New York City may not face immediate submersion, it ranks third among cities most exposed to future flooding. Lower Manhattan’s vulnerability becomes apparent when one considers that large tracts lie only 1-2 meters above present sea level. The devastating Hurricanes Sandy in 2012 and Ida in 2021 showed the city’s susceptibility to flash flooding, exposing the urgent need for proactive measures.
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