Jamaica Bay, the city’s largest wetland and open space, could be critical to the ongoing sustainability of the metropolis. The Bay’s marshes help to break waves from major storms and absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The Bay is also a refuge for hundreds of local and migratory species.
While the Bay was already a focus of the city’s sustainability efforts, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy highlighted the need to maintain and strengthen the city’s natural defenses against rising sea levels.
“Wetlands are among the most biologically productive ecosystems in the world; they also can dissipate the destructive energy of wave action during storm conditions,” Daniel Zarrilli, the city’s director of resiliency, said in an email last week. “Expected sea level rise and the increased frequency of the most intense storms associated with climate change will make this function even more important in the future.”