Flooding in New York City like that caused by Superstorm Sandy could be the new normal if predictions of local sea level rise are accurate. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
NEW YORK, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- The seas abutting the island of Manhattan have risen roughly a foot since 1900. But climate experts say sea level rise in the region is sure to accelerate in the coming decades.
In a new report compiled with the help of scientists at NASA, New York City sea levels are predicted to rise anywhere from 11 to 21 inches by the 2050s. More alarmingly, a worst-case-scenario prediction puts the city's sea level rise at six feet by the end of the century.
Published by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, the new report relies on the climate change model built by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS). The model predicts not only rising seas, but also increasing levels of precipitation and warming temperatures.
By 2050, scientists predict, temperatures will be an average of roughly 5 degrees Fahrenheit warmer. Precipitation levels could increase by as much as 13 percent by the 2080s.
Experts say the report belies the urgent need for evasive action -- including both attempts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and efforts to bolster storm and flood protections.
"The NPCC is a prototype for how federal government scientists and municipal policymakers can work together," Cynthia Rosenzweig, a researcher at GISS and co-chair of the panel, said in a press release.
Rosenzweig is also a researcher at the Center for Climate Systems Research at Columbia University's Earth Institute.
"This collaboration will help ensure that climate science developed for the New York metropolitan region informs and draws from the best available information, positioning residents and planners to confront expected future changes in the most effective way possible," she added.
The report was published in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.
"NPCC's findings underscore the urgency of not only mitigating our contributions to climate change, but adapting our city to its risks," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press announcement. "The task at hand is daunting -- and that is why we're making an unprecedented commitment, with a sweeping plan to reduce emissions 80 percent by 2050."