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Climate Report Predicts Hotter Weather and More Flooding

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A first of its kind report on climate change and its impact on New York City has just been released. Expect hotter weather, more rain, and a lot more flooding as the century progresses. WNYC's Arun Venugopal has more on the report, and the city's response.

REPORTER: The report was developed by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, which includes scientists and experts on climate and catastrophe at insurance firms. Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig is the report's co-author. She says that by 2080 local temperatures will likely be 4-7.5 degrees higher. She also predicts that sea levels will rise 1-2 feet, but says that based on other long-term models of ice-melt, it could be even worse.

ROSENZWEIG: That could really increase the sea level rise in the region of about four feet by the 2080's.

REPORTER: Those rising sea levels, as well as stronger storms, are expected to produce coastal and inland flooding, more intense and more frequent than what we currently experience. But the city's Department of Environmental Protection is trying to adapt.

DEP commissioner Steve Lawitts stands over a metal grate, about 40 feet above electrical equipment at a wastewater treatment plant in the Rockaways. He says the DEP plans to raise such equipment above sea level.

LAWITTS: Facilities like this could be more vulnerable to climate change, more vulnerable to flooding, and it would place New York's harbor water quality at risk.

REPORTER: Raising the equipment will cost $30 million at this facility, and there are 13 other wastewater treatment plants around the five boroughs. In the coming months, the city's Department of Transportation and Parks will announce how they plan to cope with the impact of climate change, on local streets, bridges and piers. For WNYC, I'm Arun Venugopal.

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