Results from the NYC Panel on Climate Change

I haven’t started the new job yet, but I’ve been reading up on various aspects of city government and the state of environmental protection and sustainability in New York City.  There are a lot of great reports available on the city’s web site.  Today I took a look at the recently released report from the NYC Panel on Climate Change.  Their predictions aren’t pretty:

  • Temperatures are expected to rise, 1.5-3 degrees F over the next 30 years and as much as 7.5 degrees F by the 2080s.
  • Annual precipitation is expected to rise 5% over the next 30 years and up to 10% by the 2080s.
  • Sea levels are expected to rise 2-5 inches over the next 30 years and 12-23 inches by the 2080s.  According to models that include ice-melt, sea levels may rise by as much as 55 inches by the 2080s.

But what do those things mean? As we’ve already begun to see over the past few years, these climate changes can make for uncomfortable and dangerous conditions.  According to the report, “short-duration climate hazards” can lead to these extreme events:

  • Heat waves are very likely to become more frequent, intense, and longer in duration
  • Brief, intense precipitation events that can cause inland flooding are also likely to increase
  • Storm-related coastal flooding due to sea level rise is very likely to increase
  • It is more likely than not that droughts will become more severe

And what will this mean for the city infrastructure?

Temperature-related impacts may include:

  • Increased summertime strain on materials
  • Increased peak electricity loads in summer & reduced heating requirements in winter

Precipitation-related impacts may include:

  • Increased street, basement & sewer flooding
  • Reduction of water quality

Sea level rise-related impacts may include:

  • Inundation of low-lying areas & wetlands
  • Increased structural damage & impaired operations

I already thought the city was too hot in the summer.  And the drainage system hase some serious problem spots.  This is going to be just great…  At least the silver lining is that we recognize this and are planning for it.


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