Guest basic geology by David Middleton
2020, 2030, 2050, 2100… Whatever… It will flood… Climate Central assures us it will flood.
Amazon’s HQ2 site in Long Island City, Queens could be flooded in the next 30 years. Here’s what scientists predict for the headquarters.
Aria Bendix Nov. 14, 2018
Scientists have long warned that New York City is at risk of chronic flooding. Due to its dense population and coastal location, the city has more residents living in high-risk flood zones than any other city in the US.
That’s bad news for Amazon, which recently opted to locate half of its second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. The company intends to build a 4 million to 8 million square-foot development directly along the flood zone in Long Island City. If sea levels continue to rise as predicted, that development may not last for more than a couple decades.
New research from Climate Central and the real estate site Zillow suggests that Queens County (where Long Island City is located) could see coastal flooding as early as 2020. The risk becomes more acute with time.
Under the most extreme projections of sea level rise, the researchers find a 100% likelihood that Queens will witness coastal flooding by 2050, meaning many of its low-lying buildings will be submerged in water. Even under moderate projections, parts of the county — including major waterfront developments — could be flooded by 2080, much sooner than scientists originally anticipated.
On the afternoon of the company’s HQ2 announcement, Citibank said it was removing 1,100 of its employees from One Court Square, a 50-story office tower, to make way for Amazon. The company is reportedly using One Court Square as a temporary space while it constructs a new development in the Anable Basin, an artificial inlet that separates Brooklyn from Queens.
Based on Climate Central data, that new development could be partially underwater by 2050…
“Based on Climate Central data, that new development could be partially underwater by 2050…”
Draft Scope of Work for an Environmental Impact Statement for the Anable Basin Rezoning CEQR No.: 18DCP057Q
The Rezoning Area is located within the coastal zone boundary. It is mapped within Zone AE of the preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) 100-Year Floodplain, representing a 1 percent annual chance of flood hazard, and the waterfront sites have a base flood elevation of 12 feet. Many of the adjacent street elevations are between 5 and 8 feet.
“The waterfront sites have a base flood elevation of 12 feet. Many of the adjacent street elevations are between 5 and 8 feet.”
The nearest NOAA tide gauge station is at The Battery.
The rate of sea level rise at The Battery has been just under 3 mm/yr since the mid-1800’s. This equates to an additional 4 inches of sea level rise in the area by 2050.
Here is the same sea level trend plotted at the same scale as today’s tidal range forecast. The average daily tidal range is about 1 meter.
Here is the same plot, projected to 2100. This projects 10 inches of sea level rise from 2018 to 2100.
Is Anable Basin currently being flooded every day at high tide? No. Here is a blowup of the area on a 1984 USGS topographic map. The waterfront sites in Anable Basin have a flood elevation of 12 feet (3.7 meters). The streets have elevations of 1.5 to 2.5 meters.
0.1 to 0.25 meters of sea level rise isn’t going to flood anything that isn’t already being flooded at high tide, like the American Merchant Mariner’s Memorial.
The American Merchant Mariner’s Memorial
Twice a day one of these tragic bronze mariners drowns with the tide to remember all those the sea has taken.
Hidden away in the water off Battery Park is one of the most moving memorials you are ever likely to see. The American Merchant Mariner’s memorial, sculpted by Marisol Escobar in 1991, takes the form of three merchant seamen stranded on a sinking ship, terrified, calling for help and trying to reach the desperate hand of one of their shipmates floundering in the water below.
The United States Merchant Mariner suffered more casualties than any other American service during World War II, 1 of every 26 mariners would not return home.
I think the author meant to say that the United States Merchant Mariner suffered a higher casualty than any other American service during World War II.
Surging Seas, Sea Level Rise Analysis by Climate Central
The Business Insider article cites two sources for the claim that Anable Basin will be flooded before mid-century: Zillow, a real estate website and Climate Central. Zillow?
This morning, when I was using the treadmill at the gym, CNBC was on the TV…
They featured a clip of Benjamin Strauss Ph.D., CEO and chief scientist at Climate Central. Out of curiosity, I Googled Dr. Strauss and I wasn’t surprised by his “credentials”…
Dr. Benjamin Strauss was elected President and CEO of Climate Central in April 2018 and also serves as Chief Scientist. He is author of numerous scientific papers and reports on sea-level rise and is architect of the Surging Seas suite of maps, tools and visualizations. Strauss has testified before the U.S. Senate and presented to state and local elected officials, and his past work has been cited by the White House and the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Surging Seas has earned more than 100 million page views, and with Strauss’s research has generated more than 10,000 appearances in U.S. and international publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, AP, Reuters, Bloomberg, China Daily and The Hindu. He has appeared as an expert on national network news, nationally syndicated radio and documentary television.
In earlier roles at Climate Central, Dr. Strauss served as Chief Scientist, Vice President for Sea Level and Climate Impacts, interim Executive Director and COO. He was a founding board member of Grist.org and the Environmental Leadership Program. Strauss co-organized the 1994 Campus Earth Summit, and consulted to the Nathan Cummings Foundation on higher education and the environment. He holds a Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Princeton University, an M.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, and a B.A. in Biology from Yale University.
No one on their Surging Seas team has a background or education in geology, physical geography, oceanography, marine science or any other subject related to sea level changes. Nor are any of them civil engineers. Most of them have biology/ecology degrees. Their “Sea-Level Rise Scientist” doesn’t appear to have ever had a real job…
Dr. Maya Buchanan serves as Climate Central’s Sea-Level Rise Scientist, where she focuses on assessing physical, social, and economic impacts of sea level rise. She also serves as the Chapter Scientist and a contributing author to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s upcoming special report on the ocean, and is an expert for the New York City Panel on Climate Change task forces on sea level rise and coastal flooding.
Previously, Dr. Buchanan worked as a liaison for the White House Subcommittee on Global Change Research and as a climate change expert, translating climate science into metrics for risk management and resilience for local and national governments. She earned her Ph.D. from Princeton University, M.S. from the Johns Hopkins University, and B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.
According to her LinkedIn page:
- Princeton University, Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.), Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy 2013 – 2017
- The Johns Hopkins University Master of Science, Environmental Engineering, 2007 – 2008
- Washington University in St. Louis Bachelor’s degree, Environmental Science & Policy, Economics, Arabic, 2002 – 2006
At least she’s not a biologist/ecologist.
Anyone with at least one semester of basic physical geology or physical geography under their belt could do what I did in this post. It doesn’t take a Ph.D. in ecology to look at a topographic map, look up the elevations of places, look up the local rate of relative sea level rise and tidal ranges and put all of that together.