As impossible as it is to believe after this winter, New York City is supposed to get significantly hotter. The de Blasio administration is planning now for life-threatening heat waves, rising sea levels, and more extreme precipitation events throughout the rest of the century.
The City has been criticized for not engaging local communities sufficiently as it plans for the impacts of climate change.
The de Blasio administration has pledged to change this, and is asking New Yorkers to weigh in on how best to prepare our neighborhoods. The administration says it will hold meetings about climate resiliency with all 59 of the city’s community boards.
The City is also asking New Yorkers to complete a survey.
A Hotter City
Annual temperatures in New York City could increase from 4 to almost 6°F by the 2050s. And by 2080, the increase could be closer to 8.8°F, say the City’s scientists.
We can expect to see more days above 90°F, more days above 100°F, and more heat waves (three or more consecutive days above 90°F), too. A recent report by the New York City Panel on Climate Change projects that by 2080, the number of heat waves could triple—up to six per year.
These temperature increases will occur in all months of the year, not just the summer. “By the 2080s, New York City’s mean temperatures … may bear similarities to those of a city like Norfolk, Virginia, today,” notes the NPCC.
Since 1900, temperatures measured in Central Park have risen 3.4°F, mirroring an increase that’s been seen throughout the entire Northeast, in both rural and urban areas.
Tracking the City’s Progress
How exactly is the City going to plan for rising temperatures? One example is the Million Trees NYC initiative, which is designed to combat air pollution and reduce the urban heat island effect. To date, almost 950,000 new trees have been planted on city streets.
This Earth Day, the City is supposed to release a progress report on its resiliency and sustainability projects. We’ll be taking a close look at the City’s report.
In part, the City will be updating all of us on the 257 projects outlined in “A Stronger, More Resilient New York,” a plan created after Superstorm Sandy, both to re-build storm battered communities, and increase the climate resilience of infrastructure and buildings citywide. The plan is part of the City’s Special Initiative for Rebuilding and Resiliency.
Join the conversation: check with your community board to find out when they are meeting with the City, or contact the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit to learn more about preparations for climate change.