TOLEDO, Ohio — Recently, we saw images depicting the result of heavy rainfall in New York City, which led to some intense flooding. But what happened, as is the case with many weather events these days, quickly became part of a much larger conversation about climate change. So, is there a correlation and could the city’s infrastructure play a huge role in its future? Let’s explore.
The New York City Mayor’s Office of Climate & Environmental Justice actually has a section of its website dedicated to the city’s plan to adapt to the changing climate, which includes a 10-year plan for retrofitting the city’s waterfront for higher sea levels and restoring wetlands, a crucial part of quality of life for both wildlife and residents.
Another climate-related challenge being looked at is the impact of extreme heat in the very urban environment that is NYC, a problem I reported on previously, which affects many medium to large sized cities across America. Urban heat islands stem from a lack of greenery, which accompanied by pavement and buildings, actually increases the ground temperature in cities. The city plans to expand its tree canopy with $112 million allocated a year ago to plant an estimated 36,000 additional trees per year in high-heat areas.
Now back to the flooding. What’s the correlation with climate change, do we have any solid evidence to prove there’s a link? With this specific event, not really. However, there is a long term trend.
As The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions explains, “For each degree Celsius of warming, the air’s capacity for water vapor goes up by about 7 percent. An atmosphere with more moisture can produce more intense precipitation events, which is exactly what has been observed.”
So, yes, this is something to be concerned about, especially in cities like New York, where the infrastructure and overall setup of the city is just not ready to accommodate what’s coming.