A recent study conducted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Rutgers University has identified the regions in the New York City metropolitan area that are sinking at the fastest rates. The study used Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and the Global Navigation Satellite System to determine the subsidence “hotspots.”
Researchers discovered that the city of New York is sinking at a rate of approximately 1.6 millimeters per year. The neighborhoods experiencing the fastest vertical ground movement are LaGuardia Airport and Arthur Ashe Stadium, both located in Queens. In fact, the sinking land beneath Arthur Ashe Stadium required the installation of a lightweight fabric roof, as it could not support a regular roof.
Highway 440 and Interstate 78, outside of New York City, were also identified as areas sinking at faster rates than the surrounding areas. The subsidence is attributed to a geological process called glacial isostatic adjustment, which occurs when land depressed from melting ice sheets thousands of years ago rises and then sinks over time.
The research suggests that groundwater extraction from the underground aquifers may contribute to the increased subsidence. Interestingly, all identified subsidence hotspots were previously used as landfills.
While the sinking of these areas is not directly caused by climate change, they are expected to be more vulnerable to future flooding due to rising sea levels. On the other hand, the study also revealed areas of elevation, such as Newton Creek in East Williamsburg, where a project to remove pollution from the creek’s aquifer correlated with land elevation.
Further research is needed to determine the exact causes of these elevated areas. However, this study provides valuable information about the dynamics of land subsidence and elevation within the New York City metropolitan area.
– NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
– Rutgers University Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.
– ABC News.