Climate change begets global risks and conditions that threaten the lifestyles of the population through various means. As the planet warms from the excess of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, temperatures also rise, which can bring about negative effects to all corners of the Earth. As such, New York is not exempt from the devastation of climate change. The biggest risks and threats New York faces are extreme heat and inland and coastal flooding, among others. The importance of climate change mitigation is underscored by these threats as they affect all people indiscriminately.
The duration of stagnant summer weather in New York has increased by as much as 11 days since 1973, while mosquito season duration has increased to 100 days, up from 70 days on average per year in the 1980s. “Danger days”, defined as days in which the heat index registers above 105 degrees, such as in cities like Buffalo, are projected to increase to 15 days by 2050, increasing from just 1 day in 2000. Over half a million people living in New York are especially vulnerable to the extreme heat that climate change may bring about, with New York currently averaging less than 5 danger days currently. Urban heat islands are also manifesting, as summer heat in the city is up to 20 degrees hotter than in nearby rural areas. Temperature averages are following suit, expected to increase by about one degree in the span of 30 years. By 2050, summer drought intensity is projected to more than double in New York, whereas rain precipitation will be more prevalent than snow in the winter.
Heavy precipitation frequencies are increasing throughout the country, although in New York, heavy downpours have increased by over 70% since 1958. Because over 240,000 people in New York live in areas at risk of inland flooding, this will prove problematic. Inland flooding percentages are expected to increase by 20% by 2050. Roughly 431,000 people in New York are alternatively at risk of coastal flooding with an additional 228,000 projected to be at risk by year 2050 due to sea-level rise. Interestingly enough, nearly 80% of total floods are caused by humans, revealing the severity of manmade disasters in this particular threat. Stronger and more frequent storms are persisting during the Atlantic hurricane season which directly affects flooding and other adverse conditions. For example, Hurricane Sandy caused nearly 11 billion gallons of sewage overflow in New York when it landed in 2012.
Sea-level rise also serves as a large threat in New York and has been a cause for concern for a long time. Sea-level rise attributed to climate change along the coast of New York City is estimated to rise from between 1 to 3 ½ feet by 2080, with storm surges increasing by as much as 15 feet. Due to this, widespread coastal flooding, along with other undesirable conditions and effects, are predicted to occur. By 2050, New York is expected to have 150 square miles in its 100-year coastal floodplain wherein the probability of experiencing a flood in a single year is greater than or equal to 1%. This is a 50% increase from New York’s current 100 square mile 100-year floodplain.
Climate change is an international issue that not only affects the current global population, but future generations as well. Several risks and threats around the world persist and will worsen due to climate change and will devastate the humankind’s way of life. New York specifically finds itself faced with many adverse problems, such as extreme heat, droughts, flooding, et al. Therefore, climate change mitigation efforts should be taken to effectively and efficiently combat the risks brought about as a result of this crisis.
New York’s Climate Threats. Retrieved from https://statesatrisk.org/new-york/all.
(2006, September) Climate Change Impacts in New York [PDF File]. Retrieved from https://statesatrisk.org/new-york/all.