New York City Slowly Sinking as Sea Level Rises

Collective weight of buildings contributes to sinking rate of 1-2 millimeters a year.   May 24, 2023

By Dave Lubach, Executive Editor

The city that never sleeps is apparently now the city that’s sinking. 

University of Rhode Island oceanologists and a U.S. Geological Survey researcher found that New York City is sinking at a rate of 1 to 2 millimeters a year as the sea level rises, according to a USA Today article

As the biggest city in the country with more than 8 million residents as well as its status as one of the financial centerpieces of the world, New York City has more than 1 million buildings weighing a collective 1.7 trillion pounds. The study showed that parts of lower Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island were showing signs of subsidence, or gradual sinking. 

“As coastal cities grow globally, the combination of construction densification and sea level rise imply increasing inundation hazard,” a research summary said. “The point of the paper is to raise awareness that every additional high-rise building constructed at coastal, river, or lakefront settings could contribute to future flood risk, and that mitigation strategies may need to be included.” 

A number of studies show the vulnerability of coastal cities to climate change. A 2022 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects sea levels to rise 10-12 inches, on average, by 2050.  

Dave Lubach is executive editor of the facility market.  


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