Rising sea levels recently submerged tiny New Moore Island in the Bay Bengal, thereby settling a longstanding territorial dispute between India and Bangladesh. (Curiously, the nations seem totally disinterested in claiming a piece of land that’s underwater.) While we certainly appreciate Mother Nature’s unique approach to conflict resolution, New Moore’s watery demise renewed one of our greatest fears: the fate of Microkhan world headquarters, which happen to rest atop a very small island. Given current sea-level trends, should we be looking to make a move to soon-to-be-sunny Duluth before Microkhan Jr. hits elementary school?
There’s a whole bunch of lightly researched speculation out there as to Manhattan’s fate, but few solid studies. The best we could dig up is this paper, discovered via NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The authors essentially conclude that the island should survive for the next few decades, but that residents might want to invest in really solid pairs of galoshes:
Climate-induced sea level rise in the MEC area will be enhanced by regional subsidence caused by ongoing crustal adjustments following the last Ice Age. Nevertheless, overall regional sea level rise is expected to remain relatively minor within the next 20 years, ranging between 11 and 30 cm. However, this temporary respite should not induce a false sense of complacency—more pronounced increases could appear by the 2050s (18–60 cm) and especially by the 2080s (24–108 cm).
The sea level rise would lead to more elevated storm floods. The 100-yr floods, ranging between 3 and 3.5 m in the 2020s would rise to 3.1–3.8 m by the 2050s, and 3.2–4.2 m in the 2080s. A significant corollary will be the marked reduction in the flood return period. The 100-yr flood within the MEC region would have a probability of recurrence once in 80 to 43 years by the 2020s, 68 to 19 years by the 2050s, and 60 to as often as 4 years, on average, by the 2080s. The area outlined by the 10-ft contour (3 m) in New York City and environs could have a likelihood of flooding once in 50 to as often as every 5.5 years, on average, by the 2080s.
The areas most at risk are those downtown, specifically the Battery Park neighborhood, which could actually disappear beneath the Harbor’s gentle waves. Fortunately, our beloved Atlah is not mentioned in the report—perhaps because our local park boasts one of the island’s highest points. Perhaps this means that, when the waters do roll in, the neighborhood will no longer reside in the livability cellar.
(Image via io9)