- Within the next 100 years, much of the
New York metropolitan area will probably be under water because of global
warming, according to a new Columbia University study.
- Subways, airports and low-lying coastal
areas could experience flooding if global warming produces more violent
storms and higher sea levels, as expected, based on research conducted
by Vivien Gornitz of Columbia Univeristy and associated with NASA's Goddard
Institute for Space Studies.
- "Local temperatures could rise by
as much as four degrees Fahrenheit, and sea levels could increase by up
to eight inches by 2030 and by as much as four feet by 2100, under the
most extreme scenarios," Gornitz said.
- Models developed by Dr. Gornitz show
local sea-level rises, ranging from four to eight inches by 2030, and maximum
coastal flood heights of nearly six feet, an increase of nearly a foot
from current levels. That means that any area below six feet above sea
level would be vulnerable to flooding, including most of the lower Manhattan
shoreline and other portions of the metro New York City area.
- The northeastern United States is dropping
by about one millimeter a year, offsetting a rise in southern Canada, which
was previously compressed by glaciers. Local geological factors elsewhere
may mitigate rising sea levels.
- "Scientists and policymakers may
quibble over details, but when all models show significant sea-level rises,
it's time to pay attention," said Dr. Gornitz.
- Gornitz suggested that state and local
planners start thinking about countermeasures now.
- The Columbia scientist says areas that
are just above sea level, including parts of lower Manhattan and New Jersey,
could be protected with seawalls, regional airports raised above expected
flood levels and pumping systems installed in subway systems.
- Dr. Gornitz presented the findings during
one of a series of events sponsored by the federal government to assess
regional vulnerability to climate change. The results, with reports from
18 other regions, will be presented to Congress and the president by 2000.