New York City Is Sinking
It's far from alone
Add up the million or so buildings in New York City, and you get something on the order of 1.7 trillion pounds of weight pressing on the earth—and that's not even counting all the other infrastructure, like roads and sidewalks. All that weight is deforming the ground, like bowling balls on a memory foam mattress, and causing a type of sinking known as subsidence, when land slowly compresses.
New research finds that, on average, subsidence rates in NYC are between 1 and 2 millimeters per year, but in some places that's up to 4 millimeters. This may not sound like a worrying figure, but compounded year after year, it's significant sinking that's effectively doubling the relative sea-level rise in the metropolis.
"You have about 1 to 2 millimeters of sea level going up, while you have 1 to 2 millimeters on average going down," said United States Geological Survey geophysicist Tom Parsons, coauthor of a new paper describing the research. "It's a common issue with cities around the world. It appears there's a definite link between urbanization and subsidence."
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