FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 17, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG RELEASES NEW YORK CITY PANEL ON CLIMATE CHANGE REPORT THAT PREDICTS HIGHER TEMPERATURES AND RISING SEA LEVELS FOR NEW YORK CITY
Report is First Step in PlaNYC Initiative to Protect Vital Infrastructure
Most Detailed Climate Risk Information for any Major City in the World
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg released today New York City-specific climate change projections developed by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) that show climate change poses real and significant risks to New York City. According to the report of the panel, which consists of leading climate change scientists, academics, and private sector practitioners convened by the Mayor and funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, New York City will face higher temperatures and more rapidly rising sea levels, as well as more frequent and intense extreme weather events – like heat waves, heavy rainstorms, and coastal flooding – over the course of the century. The report will be used to inform the actions of the City’s Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which was appointed last summer and is made up of City, State, and Federal agencies, regional public authorities and private companies that control critical infrastructure in New York City. The report was released at the Department of Environmental Protection’s Rockaway Wastewater Treatment Plant, which is preparing for the effects of climate change by raising electrical equipment, such as pump motors, circuit breakers, and controls, to higher elevations. The Mayor was joined by Acting Environmental Protection Commissioner Steven Lawitts, New York City Panel on Climate Change co-chair Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig and the Office of Emergency Management’s Chief of Staff Seth Cummings.
“The climate change projections developed by our expert panel put numbers to what we already know – climate change is real and could have serious consequences for New York if we don’t take action,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “The projections developed by the NPCC will be used by our Adaptation Task Force to create a plan to protect the City’s critical infrastructure and will inform other City efforts to adapt to climate change. Planning for climate change today is less expensive than rebuilding an entire network after a catastrophe. We cannot wait until after our infrastructure has been compromised to begin to plan for the effects of climate change now.”
“There is a growing recognition of the need for adaptation to climate change in urban areas, and this initiative of Mayor Bloomberg’s puts New York City in the forefront of this global effort.” said Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies/ Columbia University Earth Institute and co-chair of the NPCC.
“In the coming decades, our coastal city will most likely face more rapidly rising sea levels and warmer temperatures, as well as potentially more droughts and floods, which will all have impacts on New York City’s critical infrastructure,” said Dr. William Solecki of the CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College and co-chair of the NPCC. “Taking steps now to adapt to these impacts will reduce their potential consequences in the future.”
“DEP projects are often designed and built on a very long time horizon,” said Acting DEP Commissioner Steven Lawitts. “This provides an opportunity and an obligation for us to start immediately incorporating climate change adaptations into our work. We have already started doing so through an intra-agency working group that is guiding design adaptations throughout the waste water and drinking water systems. The support of Mayor Bloomberg and the vision of PlaNYC have been critical in making this work a reality.”
“New York City is leading the way in planning for the weather effects of climate change,” said OEM Commissioner Joseph Bruno. “And while the City has developed comprehensive plans for heat, flash flooding, and coastal storms, we continue to encourage all New Yorkers to learn about the hazards they face and take the simple steps necessary to prepare for them.”
Using global climate models and local information, the New York City Panel on Climate Change projects that by the end of the century New York City’s mean annual temperatures projected to increase by 4 to 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit. Annual precipitation is also projected to increase by 5 to 10 percent, and sea levels to rise by 12 to 23 inches. Recent evidence, however, including accelerated ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica, suggests that sea levels could rise at a faster rate than projected by the existing models – potentially to 41 to 55 inches by the end of the century. While this “rapid ice-melt” scenario does not have the same level of confidence associated with it as those developed by the global climate models, the NPCC included it in their projections given the large impact it would have on the City should it occur.
The report also projects that extreme events – such as heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts, and coastal flooding – are likely to become more frequent and more intense. In contrast, cold day events, where the temperature drops below freezing, will decrease in frequency. By the end of the century, New York City could experience:
The NPCC was charged with developing climate change projections for New York City and tools to assist the City’s Climate Change Adaptation Task Force. The first of these tools, the Climate Risk Information Workbook, which contains detailed climate change projections for New York City primarily based on global climate model simulations, was released today.
The report will be used by the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force, which consists of 38 City, State, and federal agencies, regional public authorities, and private companies that operate, maintain and regulate critical infrastructure in New York City. The Task Force, which was also launched in August 2008, is working to identify the risks and opportunities posed by climate change and will release an initial report on its findings and draft adaptation strategies later this year.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change is modeled on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The NPCC is chaired by Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig of the Columbia University Earth Institute/NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Dr. William Solecki of CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities at Hunter College. The Panel is funded through a $350,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. While the focus of the Panel’s work is New York City, the climate change projections it developed are generally applicable for the greater New York City metropolitan region.
Stu Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958
Michael Saucier (DEP) (718) 595-6600
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