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New York City sea levels could rise a foot in next decade

New York City sea levels could rise more than a foot by the 2030s, according to projections presented by a city climate panel.

The nation’s largest city will see as much as 10 percent more precipitation and temperature increases of 2 degrees to 4.7 degrees, the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) said at a presentation at the Consortium for Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast. The presentation’s contents were first reported by The City.

Further into the century, “we can’t rule out” precipitation increases as high as 30 percent, said NPCC member Radley Horton, a climate professor at Columbia University, although he added that projecting precise precipitation increases “is not a strength of climate models.”

On the other end of the spectrum, he said, higher temperatures also could mean an increased risk of drought due to faster rates of evaporation.

Already, “coastal New York City is experiencing a slightly higher rate of sea level rise than the global average,” Horton added, and “sea level rise, even if it doesn’t sound like much … matters an enormous amount. If you raise that baseline by a foot … the high water levels that you might see during the occasional storm, if we add a foot of water to that, we suddenly have the events that used to be very rare happening many times more than they used to,” such as high-tide flooding.

The increased temperatures, meanwhile, mean a higher risk of power failures and health issues due to heat. An average of 350 New Yorkers die prematurely each summer as a result of extreme heat, according to a 2023 report from the city. In addition to last year smashing worldwide temperature records, it was also the hottest year on record since the 1800s for New York, which additionally saw its single warmest January on record last year.

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