Interactive Map Shows How Much Of New York City Could Flood By 2020

03/14/2012 4:12 PM |


Anyone outside the camp of vehement climate change-deniers probably knows that greenhouse gases resulting from irresponsible production and consumption practices are seriously messing with the world as we know it. Many are even aware that a country like Bangladesh, half of which lies less than 20 feet above sea level, could expect mass catastrophe as soon as 2050 because of rising seas. But according to new research, it’s not just Bangladesh that’s screwed—3.7 million people on U.S. coastlines are at risk of increased flooding in the next few decades.

Climate Central, a New Jersey-based non-profit, released a report Wednesday, entitled “Surging Seas,” that projects a four foot rise in sea levels during storms in the next 20 years. As a result, odds of a catastrophic flood that would only occur once every 100 years in New York are more than doubled because of global warming, according to the report. Land 3.3 feet below sea level is expected to one day remain permanently underwater, perhaps in the next 100 years, according to the New York Times.

That’s what the interactive map is for. Using the sliding cursor (just plug in your zip code below), you can see for yourself projected risks of flooding as sea levels rise over time. By 2020, for example, there’s more than a one-in-six chance that sea levels, plus storm surge, plus tides, will rise to one foot at the nearest flood risk indicator site—in this case, The Battery in the New York Harbor. From the map, it looks like even that would put the Williamsburg Waterfront underwater, and by 2030, a five foot rise would flood all of East River Park.

The good-ish news is that, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council, New York is one of the best prepared cities in the country for climate change-related disasters. But while the city’s Department of Environmental Protection launched a climate change task force dedicated to the issue in 2008, and Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC urban planning goals discuss preparing for coastal flooding, the recent boom in waterfront development contradicts the realities of rising sea levels—estimated to rise as much as two to five inches by the 2020s.

Ay. Guess they didn’t need to build all those indoor pools after all.

You can follow Sydney Brownstone on Twitter @sydbrownstone