As I wrote:
No need to pause and think any longer—last night, just over five years later, much of it came to pass. And indeed, climate change, a topic embarrassingly ignored in the three recent presidential debates, made it worse.
Even as we act immediately to curtail short term vulnerability, every exposed coastal city needs a risk assessment that takes global warming scenarios into account…Scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York have been studying that city's vulnerability to hurricane impacts in a changing world, and calculated that with 1.5 feet of sea level rise, a worst-case-scenario Category 3 hurricane could submerge "the Rockaways, Coney Island, much of southern Brooklyn and Queens, portions of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island from Great Kills Harbor north to the Verrazano Bridge." (Pause and think about that for a second.)
Last night, southern Manhattan reportedly received a 13.88 foot storm surge, a record high and more than enough to flood much of the city. We’ve all seen the pictures. What’s more,according to Ben Orlove, director of the Master's Program in Climate and Society at Columbia University, about a foot of that surge would not have been there if not for the sea-level rise already caused by climate change over the course of the 20th century.
Back in 2007, NASA scientists calculated that with 1.5 feet of sea level rise, a Category 3 hurricane could submerge the Rockaways, Coney Island, southern Brooklyn and Queens, portions of Long Island City, Astoria, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens, lower Manhattan, and eastern Staten Island.
So, yes, we knew. We knew well ahead of time that this could happen, and we knew global warming was already making it worse. We knew, but we did virtually nothing. (Well, New York did empanel a sea level rise task force, which put out a report—and you can see how that turned out.)
But it’s not just about what we knew—it’s also what we know going forward. We know that if you think this is bad, well, global warming will make it still worse in the future.
Take a recent Nature study by climate scientists at MIT and Princeton, looking at future storm surge scenarios under climate change. The researchers used multiple computer model runs to simulate a variety of storm surges hurled at New York City—explicitly looking at future climate and sea level rise scenarios. By 2100, New York is projected to experience between .5 and 1.5 meters of sea-level rise. Taking the midpoint of this estimate, or a 1 meter sea-level rise, the paper found that what is currently a 100 year storm surge event for New York could become a 20 year event by 2100. More