New York City’s coastline could experience inundations from hurricanes every two decades as a result of climate change’s effect on sea-level rise. Water could surge about 9 feet in hurricanes that can potentially occur from three to 17 times more than today, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Benjamin Horton, a professor of sea level research at New Jersey-based Rutgers University and a co-author of the study, said the inundations caused by hurricanes would affect common places, as well as the way people live and work, as reported by Reuters. He noted that there would also be problems with the ecosystem.

New York
Manhattan Coastline. Image credit: Getty Images.

Ning Lin, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor at Princeton University in New Jersey, said this team of researchers was the first to make projections about the contribution of climate change in sea-level rise and hurricane activity, Reuters reported. The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution contributed to the study.

The team used a combination of computer model projections and historical data, including tidal gauge records and geological records from New York City since 1856. They wanted to measure how often floods like those caused by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey could take place until 2100. Hurricane Katrina of 2005 was even more extreme.

The study authors found that flood similar to that caused by Sandy increased around threefold between 1800 and 2000. Horton said the U.S. could experience hurricanes as strong as Sandy once every 400 years should the climate remain exactly as it is today. In 1800, such hurricanes occurred once every 1,200 years and the researchers estimate that such extreme floods will occur once every 90 years by 2100.

The study’s predictions implicate improved efforts are needed to tackle climate change

The fact that coastal areas and New York could be affected by flooding more frequently requires tremendous efforts to protect humans; Horton pointed out. There are 8.5 million people only in New York City.

“Something like that periodically hitting the coastline, it would result in incredible engineering projects, up and down the U.S. seaboard, to protect society,” Horton said in a phone interview with the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The researcher mentioned the urgent need for slashing greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. The Paris Agreement will take effect on Nov. 4 after it received important support last week.

“The grand answer is that things are going to get worse by 2100. If nothing changes with hurricanes, sea-level rise alone will increase the frequency of Sandy-like events by 2100,” said Horton, as quoted by Reuters.

Lin said the research team expects to be able to make more accurate predictions as they get more refined hurricane dynamic and climate models, according to a report by Tech Times. Their findings will help planners design better strategies to reduce the impacts of floods.

Expectations rise around the Paris Agreement

The primary goal: limit global temperature rise to no more than 2 degrees Celsius or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Last week, 55 nations responsible for more than 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions formally confirmed their commitment.

More than 190 countries attended last year’s climate conference in the French capital and the U.S. and China, the two largest greenhouse gas emitters in this vulnerable planet, formally joined the deal Sept 3. India did the same later in the month.

Barack Obama, Paris Agreement
President Barack Obama at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in 2015. Image credit: Planet Pix v/REX/Shutterstock.

World leaders, the scientific community, and the general public expect the deal will create a new path to save the planet and protect future generations. Global warming has been causing more intense weather swings, rising seas, and many species have become critically endangered because of the severe effect this human-made phenomenon has had on Earth, the only habitable planet discovered so far.

Last year was the warmest ever recorded. Experts estimate 2016 will match or even exceed that. Although the treaty doesn’t legally bind the countries involved, world leaders are required to report on their emissions and progress on meeting their national goals. The nations must also maintain their plans and update them every five years.

Source: Reuters