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New York, 1 Oct: A state of emergency has been declared in New York City after heavy rain overnight caused widespread flooding on streets, subways, and airports. This flood incident is not an isolated incident and experts have warned that it may become worse due to the increasing impact of climate change.
One of the major issues contributing to flooding in New York City is the capacity of its drainage system. The city’s drainage system is designed to handle a maximum of 1.75 inches of rain per hour, but the recent storm brought more than 2 inches of rain. The overflow of rainwater is a major factor behind floods.
Rohit Aggarwala, commissioner of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, said changing weather patterns are a result of climate change and the city’s infrastructure is struggling to keep up. He emphasized that climate change is occurring faster than infrastructure can adapt.
In more than half of New York City, stormwater and sewage share the same pipes in the drainage system. When the system is overwhelmed, excess water flows into local waterways. This can cause untreated wastewater to enter the basements of homes and businesses during heavy rainfall events.
Climate scientist Michael Mann of the University of Pennsylvania highlighted that the increasing frequency of heavy rainfall events can be attributed to climate change. As the planet warms and the oceans warm, there is more moisture in the atmosphere, which can result in heavy rainfall and flooding. Additionally, climate change is altering the behavior of the jet stream, causing disrupted weather patterns that may lead to longer periods of heavy rainfall and flooding.
In short, experts are warning that New York City is increasingly vulnerable to flooding due to climate change, and without significant infrastructure upgrades and climate mitigation efforts, such events are likely to become more frequent and severe in the future.