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Study shows that climate change will bring thousands of Floridians to New York

By Clayton Guse

New York's waterfront is one of the most beautiful parts of the city. From a floating park to amazing skyline views, the stretches of the city adjacent to the rivers or the ocean are nothing short of inspirational. 

But as the planet continues to warm and sea levels continue to rise, those areas will change from valuable to vulnerable. Across the country, populations living near waterfronts at or near sea level will be displaced by rising sea levels, and New York is no exception. New Yorkers saw the effects of rampant flooding in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and are still reckoning with the damage caused by the storm. 

A new study published in Nature Climate Change by University of Georgia geographer Mathew Hauer looks into where people will migrate when their waterfront dwellings are no longer habitable, and it isn't exactly pretty. A previous study by Hauer projected that sea levels rising by just 1.8 meters by 2100 would put more than 900,000 residents in New York state at risk. The findings are nuanced, but the broad strokes are clear: the population of the New York-New Jersey area will reduce by 50,000 people if infrastructure is not adapted to handle the rising tides. Further, New York state will see an influx of migrants from Florida.

That's right, New Yorkers—if the world doesn't drastically curb the effects of climate change in the coming decades, thousands of Floridians will move here. 

Here's a graphic that breaks down of Hauer's projected population migration by state, assuming sea levels rise by 1.8 meters by 2100.

Graphic: Mathew Hauer

The study points to the very real and terrifying impact that climate change will have not only in New York, but the country as a whole. If you want to help ensure that NYC will continue to be an amazing city for future generations, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and take action. If rising sea levels don't inspire you to get involved, then perhaps the thought of thousands of Floridians moseying through subway turnstiles will. 


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