In a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists claim that the risk of major storm-driven flooding in New York City is already considerably higher than it was even 100 years ago due to both a considerable rise in sea level and to changes in the nature of storms, according to a report in the Washington Post.
“We see more intense storms with a greater ability to produce high storm surges at the Battery in NYC,” the researchers’ report was quoted by the Post.
The study concluded that storms and their consequences varied across different periods, and the current era’s average storm surge was 1.24 meters higher than in previous eras. “These intuitive results stress the increasing risk that coastal regions of the United States face due to the combination of [sea level rise] and storm surges,” the report was quoted by the Post.
“I think the punchline is, we made Sandy much more likely already,” said Penn State researcher Michael Mann, one of the authors of the report, in the Post. “We estimate that that shouldn’t happen more than once every 3,000 years. With climate change, that becomes roughly a once-in-a-century event. So it should have happened once in the last century, and it did.”
The study also found that bigger storms with reduced wind speed that can drive large surges farther inland, like Sandy, are more likely in the current era, according to the Post report.
“We’re already dealing with greatly elevated risk. We’re not just talking about the future. Climate change is already costing us dearly, but it’ll be a whole lot worse if we do nothing about it,” Mann was quoted.