NYC plans to expand Manhattan to protect against rising seas
The sea levels across New York are estimated to rise between 18 and 50 inches by 2100.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday his $10-billion plan to protect lower Manhattan against sea level rise and storm surges.
- The plan calls for creating new land that would extend the lower part of the island by about two city blocks.
- As sea levels rise around the globe, cities are experimenting with various methods to protect themselves.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has a bold and expensive plan to protect lower Manhattan from sea level rise and the next major storm: Expand the coastline by two city blocks into the East River. The plan, estimated to cost $10 billion, would create new land between piers from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Battery, and would install "grassy berms in parks and removable barriers that can be anchored in place as storms approach," the mayor said.
"It will be one of the most complex environmental and engineering challenges our city has ever undertaken and it will, literally, alter the shape of the island of Manhattan," de Blasio wrote in a New York Magazine op-ed. "The new land will be higher than the current coast, protecting the neighborhoods from future storms and the higher tides that will threaten its survival in the decades to come."
Compared to other parts of the island, Lower Manhattan is especially close to sea level, with some parts rising just five feet above it. The raised land could help protect against sea level rise, though its primary purpose seems to be a buffer against storm surges. De Blasio said it's an open question what might be built on the new land, suggesting parks or schools as possibilities.
NYC Mayor's Office
Scientists estimate that sea levels could rise 18 to 50 inches across New York State by 2100, which is doubly alarming considering higher seas will enable storms to inflict greater damage on the city. The mayor said New Yorkers have "no choice" but to begin protecting the island.
"The reason we're forced take dramatic action now is because for years so many in Washington put the profits of Big Oil over the future of our planet," the mayor wrote. "New York City is divesting our pension funds from the fossil-fuel companies who caused this crisis and we're suing them for refusing to act when they knew the damage it would cause to cities like ours."
How coastal cities are preparing for sea level rise and stronger storms
As coastal cities around the globe face the existential threats posed by climate change, some have already begun preparing for the worst. Here are some of the most common methods.
- Storm surge barriers: One of the largest and most famous examples is the massive Maeslant Barrier in South Holland, Netherlands. Controlled by a supercomputer, the barrier consists of two massive gates — each 72 feet wide and 688 feet long — which automatically close off a key waterway that leads to the city whenever a storm poses a flood threat.
- Seawalls: The most common defense against sea level rise is to build simple vertical or sloped barriers. These static, man-made walls might help stave off sea levels for a while, but they're guaranteed to wear down over time, and they simply aren't possible to build in cities like Miami. They can also cause destruction to biodiversity.
- Living shorelines: Some coastal cities have tried fortifying coastline with natural materials, such as salt marsh or mangroves. One major benefit of these approaches — sometimes called "soft options" — is that the barriers can collect sediment and other organic matter over time, meaning that they grow along with sea level rise.
- Reservoirs: If you can't hold back the water, at least find a way to store it in the event of a storm. That's the idea in Rotterdam, where the city has built parks that double as reservoirs that are able to trap water in the event of flooding.
- Retreat: In places where resources are lacking or the land is unfit for barriers, residents might soon have just one option: move.
- We are heading for a New Cretaceous, not for a new normal | Aeon ... ›
- Pine Island Glacier is calving gigantic iceberg - Big Think ›
- Video reveals effects of climate change in Manhattan | Daily Mail ... ›
- Climate Change Will Bring Major Flooding to New York Every 5 Years ›
- How Climate Change Will Affect New York City ›
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.
In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.
Image from the study.
As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.
Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.
"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.
It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.
Image by authors of the study.
Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.
The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.
“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.