Enhancing New York City's resilience to sea level rise and increased coastal flooding

Vivien Gornitz, Michael Oppenheimer, Robert Kopp, Radley Horton, Philip Orton, Cynthia Rosenzweig, William Solecki, Lesley Patrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Accelerating Greenland and Antarctic Ice Sheet ice mass losses and potential West Antarctic Ice Sheet instability may lead to higher than previously anticipated future sea levels. The New York City Panel on Climate Change Antarctic Rapid Ice Melt (ARIM) upper-end, low probability sea level rise (SLR) scenario, which incorporates recent ice loss trends, improved ice sheet-ocean-atmosphere modeling, and potential ice sheet destabilization, projects SLR of up to 2.1 m by the 2080s and up to 2.9 m by 2100, at high greenhouse gas emissions (NPCC, 2019). These results exceed previous high-end SLR projections (90th percentile) of 1.5 m by the 2080s and 1.9 m by 2100, relative to 2000–2004 (NPCC, 2015). By 2100, the 1% annual chance (100-year) floodplain could cover 1/3 of the city's total area under ARIM; around 1/5 of the area could be flooded during monthly high tides. Some low-lying locations could become permanently inundated by late century. Will New York City coastal resiliency initiatives, guided, in part by NPCC findings, suffice for very high sea levels? Additional research is needed to determine technological, environmental, or economic limitations to coastal protection and to decide when and where strategic relocation may become necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100654
JournalUrban Climate
StatePublished - Sep 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Atmospheric Science


  • Coastal flooding
  • Flood adaptation
  • New York City
  • Resiliency planning
  • Sea level rise


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