Aug 8, 2013

Contribution of relative sea-level rise to historical hurricane flooding in New York City

Kemp, Andrew C., Horton, Benjamin P.
Journal of Quaternary Science
  • States flooding during hurricanes is a hazard for New York City
  • States flood height is determined by storm surge characteristics, timing (high or low tide) and relative sea-level (RSL) change
  • Estimates the contribution from these factors for seven historical hurricanes (1788–2012) that caused flooding in New York City
  • Supplements measurements from The Battery tide gauge and historical accounts with a RSL reconstruction from Barnegat Bay, New Jersey
  • Reconstructs RSL from foraminifera preserved in salt-marsh sediment dated using marker horizons of lead and copper pollution and 137Cs activity. Finds that  RSL rose by 56 cm between the 1788 hurricane and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, including 15 cm from glacio-isostatic adjustment
  • Results indicate that storm surge characteristics and timing with respect to astronomical tides remain the dominant factors in determining flood height; however, RSL rise will raise the base level for flood heights in New York City and exacerbate flooding caused by future hurricanes