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Flood Pressure

State Analysis Points to Seven Feet of Sea Level Rise at the Battery

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A new analysis prepared by New York State scientists, “Understanding and Preparing for Our Changing Climate,” predicts that flooding at the Battery may top out at more than seven feet by the middle of the next century. These photographs were taken on January 13, 2024, when "sunny day" flooding unexpectedly inundated Lower Manhattan.

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A new report from the New York State Climate Impacts Assessment, a science-based investigation into how global warming is affecting New York’s local communities, ecosystems, and economy, has dire implications for Lower Manhattan.

In the report, titled “Understanding and Preparing for Our Changing Climate,” the research team notes that the rate of local sea level rise, as quantified by a tide gauge at the Battery (just off the southern tip of Lower Manhattan), averaged about one-tenth of an inch per year between 1856 and 2022, or slightly less than a foot over the last century. But the report cautions that this is a conservative statement and notes that the rate of increase is accelerating, and from 1920 to 2022 was double the global average.

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A tide gauge and buoy maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is stationed at the coastline of the Battery. On January 13, 2024, the day that the photographs above were taken, it measured water levels three feet higher than predicted.

Projecting these trends forward, while factoring in multiple global drivers of climate change such as glacial melt and sea level rise, the team predicts that in the next decade, water levels at the coastline of the Battery could rise nearly as much as they did in the previous 100 years, increasing seven to 11 inches by the 2030s.

Longer term, the report predicts that by mid-century, sea levels surrounding Lower Manhattan could reach levels 14 to 19 inches higher than the study’s baseline (an average of the years 1995 through 2014) and then jump 25 to 39 inches in the 2080s. By the end of this century, the same models peg local sea level rise to 30 to 50 inches higher than the comparison point, with a rise of 47 to 89 inches by 2150.

These increases translate into more frequent flood events, in a form of inundation known as “high-tide flooding.” Often referred to as “nuisance” or “sunny day” flooding, it is unrelated to storms and caused by strong high tides during the full and new moons, often exacerbated by wind and shifts of ocean currents.

“While New York City currently experiences approximately ten high-tide floods per year as measured at the Battery, that number could rise to 60–85 days by the 2040s,” the report notes. “This projection means chronic flooding could affect low-lying coastal neighborhoods once a week or more.” 

The $169-million Battery Coastal Resilience project, which completed its design process last year and is expected to break ground shortly, aims to address these concerns. But if the worst-case predictions contained in the Climate Impacts Assessment prove accurate, the five feet of additional elevation envisioned by the Battery Coastal Resilience designs may offer only a limited reprieve. The seven feet-plus of additional water predicted by this report for the mid-22nd century would overtop these barriers by more than two feet several times each week.

Matthew Fenton

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[Re: Prosody in View, February 11, 2024]

To the editor,

Your reporting of the re-opening of Poets House led me to the doorstep of this neighborhood gem that we so deeply missed. Fond memories flushed out as soon as I strolled through the place, section by section. Their staff are just as friendly. We reminisced on the flood, too. Bob and I happened to be there then, so we were able to offer extra hands to get some water out. How wonderful poets and poetry lovers can come again. What a pleasant place!

Cora Fung

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Friday, February 16



6 River Terrace

Easy-to-follow Latin dance choreography. Free.


China Institute Calligraphy and Music Meetup

China Institute, 40 Rector Street

Evening of traditional Chinese music and calligraphy. No previous experience of calligraphy is required. Ink, paper, and brush will be provided. $10.

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Saturday, February 17


Black History Month at the African Burial Ground

290 Broadway

African mask-making, music, and a presentation on “Making the Image Behind Washington: Enslavement and the Presidency.” Free.


Hamilton and Washington Secrets of the Past Walking Tour

Meet at Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, One Bowling Green

Experience American history on the streets where it happened, and through the lives of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton. $38.


Traditional Lion Dances

Pier 16, South Street Seaport

Lion dance performance. Repeated at 1:40pm and 2:20pm. Free.


Chinese Calligraphy Workshop

South Street Seaport Museum, 12 Fulton Street

45-minute workshop exploring the art of Chinese calligraphy. Using a traditional calligraphy brush, participants will be instructed on how to write simple characters. Primarily designed for children ages 7–12, but open to all ages. Advanced registration is required. Repeated at 3pm and 4pm. Free.


Sarah Cabral and Mauro Refosco

Perelman Performing Arts Center lobby

Sarah Cabral, originally from southern Brazil, is a musical force drawing on diverse influences like modern jazz, avant-garde, and classical genres. Mauro Refosco, a Grammy-winning percussionist, began his touring journey as David Byrne’s percussionist. Free.

Sunday, February 18


Al Diaz "SAMO" Art Workshops

Tribeca Synagogue, 49 White Street

Two separate classes—one for kids 4-10 years old, and one for anyone 12 and older—with the artist Al Diaz “SAMO,” an influential first-generation subway graffiti artist who collaborated with schoolmate Jean-Michel Basquiat. $55.


A Poetry Reading in Response to Antisemitism

Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place

Opportunity to gather in the power and beauty of poetry and the vitality of Jewish life. $10 suggested donation.

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2021 photograph © Robert Simko


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