- The weight of New York City’s skyscrapers and buildings, nearing 1.7 trillion pounds, is causing the city to gradually sink into surrounding bodies of water at a rate of 1-2 millimeters per year.
- This subtle descent increases the city’s vulnerability to natural disasters, with Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens facing significant risks.
- The city’s sinking has been linked to more severe flood hazards in the future, compounded by the effects of climate change and the city’s non-compliance with floodplain standards.
The iconic New York City skyline might be a symbol of aspiration and progress, but a recent study suggests that the sheer weight of these imposing structures could be causing the city to sink into its surrounding waters.
This is a slow process, happening at a rate of 1-2 millimeters per year, but according to lead researcher Tom Parsons of the United States Geological Survey, it has significant implications for the city’s susceptibility to natural disasters.
The city’s subsidence is not uniformly distributed, with areas such as Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens experiencing a greater sinking rate, thereby increasing their exposure to flood hazards.
Given the concentration of 8.4 million people in these areas, the consequences of this subsidence are far-reaching and potentially devastating.
The city’s urbanization has exacerbated the drainage issues within the city, as evidenced during Hurricanes Sandy in 2012 and Ida in 2021, which caused widespread damage.
What’s troubling is that despite the city experiencing the harsh impacts of such events, many new real estate developments post-Sandy have not been built to floodplain standards.
This lack of action indicates an underestimation of the impending threat, putting the city’s structures and population at heightened risk.