The New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC2) has released a report on the ramifications of increasing atmospheric temperatures for the New York metropolitan region. The findings contain a number of dire predictions for the coming decades in the Big Apple, with longer and more frequent droughts, floods, storms, and heat waves tripling by the 2080s.
The panel, which is comprised of scholars, climate scientists, and experts in infrastructure and risk management, was convened in the wake of Hurricane Sandy to provide up-to-date data on climate risks. Their latest report details trends observed worldwide, the most notable being a 40 percent increase in global CO2 levels since the industrial revolution, which the authors agree is almost 100 percent due to “human activities.”
As the greenhouse effect would have it, the increased CO2 in the atmosphere has led to a 1 degree C increase in global temperature since 1880, the report finds. If the trend continues, researchers predict the global average temperature will increase by as much as 8.6°F (4.8°C) by 2100. As a result, heat waves and extreme precipitation are “very likely to increase,” researchers found.
But extreme weather patterns is not all that will increase. As the US Environmental Protection Agency explains, when the earth radiates more heat, the ocean absorbs more heat. This thermal expansion of the earth’s oceans, combined with increased melting of ice, results in higher sea levels.
According to the NPCC2 report, sea levels in the New York area are expected to rise 21 inches by the 2050s, possibly reaching 6 feet by 2100. “It is virtually certain that sea level rise alone will lead to an increased frequency and intensity of coastal flooding as the century progresses,” the report warned. Persistent flooding could prove catastrophic for America’s largest and most densely populated city, as we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
But, as the report authors agree, it isn’t too late. Taking action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions would indeed reduce the impact of an increased atmospheric temperature, they say. Speaking to reporters, Mayor Bill de Blasio was confident in the city’s action plan: “The task at hand is daunting,” he said, “and that is why we’re making an unprecedented commitment … to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050,” the Huffington Post reports.