Long Island, in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of New York, is a densely populated island in the New York metropolitan area.
It is the most populous island in the United States, with over 8 million people, and ranks as the 18th-most populous island globally.
Its geography begins at approximately 0.35 miles east of Manhattan Island in New York Harbor and extends approximately 118 miles eastward into the Atlantic Ocean.
The maximum north-to-south width between Long Island Sound and the Atlantic coast is about 23 miles while its land area is 1,401 square miles.
Long Island ranks as the 11th-largest island in the United States, the largest island in the contiguous United States, and the 149th-largest island globally.
According to scientific projections, Long Island could be underwater within the next century if the current rate of global warming and melting of polar ice caps continues unchecked.
The impact of this potential disaster on the people, economy, and infrastructure of Long Island would be catastrophic.
NEXT ON NEWS 12: New Yorkers voted yes to the Environmental Bond Act. What does that mean for Long Island’s fight against climate change? Find out on the News at 10. pic.twitter.com/Pp2U7MpzZ4
— News12LI (@News12LI) November 10, 2022
Experts warn that even a small increase in sea level could cause significant damage to the region’s infrastructure and homes, including flooding, erosion, and saltwater intrusion into the groundwater supply.
This would devastate the local economy, particularly the fishing and tourism industries, which are major contributors to Long Island’s economy.
The climate crisis is already in full swing here on Long Island. The Great South Bay is one of the many areas feeling the impacts of not only climate change, but human-cased environmental issues. I talked with experts from @nature_ny, @SaveTheGSB, and @citizensenviro. pic.twitter.com/knSR7BlvWz
— Ben (@BenFiebert) December 27, 2021
Sea Level Rise In Long Island
Global sea level rise is a major concern as land glaciers melt into waterways due to rising temperatures.
Long Island is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise because it is surrounded by water.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has gathered data that shows a global average of an 8-inch sea level rise since 1880.
In comparison, New York has experienced a sea level increase that nearly doubles the global average, with a 13-inch sea level rise.
The NOAA predicts that the sea level rise will continue, and it projects an average 4-foot rise in sea level by the year 2100.
“We do know the land is sinking…36% of the relative sea level rise there in NYC”
“NY City absolute sea level rate of rise is 0.7 to 1.0 mm/yr.”
“NY City relative sea level acceleration is about +0.008 mm/yr²”
A map of Long Island reveals no change since 1802. pic.twitter.com/TDyMG4aK1I
— Kenneth Richard (@Kenneth72712993) July 6, 2022
Will Long Island Be Underwater In 2050?
According to projections, the sea level along the Long Island Sound shoreline could rise up to 18 inches above current levels by 2050 and as much as six and a half feet higher by 2100.
“The company’s Long Island City offices ‘will’ be underwater by 2100.”
“Will” is a big word – an absolute term. Find us a handful of climate scientists who would actually claim that this is given. This NOAA Sta is on Long Island – rate is 10″/100yrs – w/ no accel#climatechange pic.twitter.com/1W66wqWerp
— Gary Hall (@GaryWHall) November 17, 2018
Climate change-induced severe weather events, including intense hurricanes, are also predicted to become more frequent.
This has significant implications for the densely populated coast, including some of the state’s largest towns.
Coastal areas in Connecticut, including those along the Long Island Sound shoreline, are vulnerable due to rapid development in the 19th and 20th centuries, compounded by much of the land being less than 20 feet above sea level.
In an intermediate low emission scenario, Long Island is projected to experience a sea level rise that is more than 50% higher than the global average.
This puts Long Island at a higher risk of flooding and other coastal hazards due to the combination of tides, wind, deposition of sediments, floods, and sea level rise.
This constant stress makes developing and maintaining infrastructure along the coast even more challenging.
— The New Republic (@newrepublic) November 19, 2018
Will Long Island be Underwater?
Long Island has seen its vulnerability to rising sea levels in recent years.
As global temperatures continue to rise, land glaciers are melting and flowing into the oceans, contributing to an overall rise of 13 inches since 1880.
This phenomenon poses particular dangers for Long Island due to its unique geographic position surrounded by the ocean.
One estimate suggests the sea level in Long Island Sound could rise by as much as 20 inches by 2050, submerging parts of Groton’s shore and causing regular flooding in residential neighbourhoods and along major roadways.
Furthermore, such a rise would immensely affect the island’s ecology – particularly salt marshes and wetlands, which serve as vital habitats for fish, birds, and other creatures.
Scientists predict sea level rise could reach unprecedented heights by this century’s end, ranging from 3 to 6.5 feet above current levels.
This could result in permanent submersion of low-lying areas along Long Island’s coastline and cause catastrophic damage to homes, businesses and infrastructure.
What Is The Estimated Lifespan Of Long Island?
According to predictions by the NOAA, the worst-case scenario is that the entire South Shore of Long Island could be submerged underwater by the year 2100, with the North Shore also experiencing significant coastal inundation.
This would affect over 150 towns on the island.
Although the North Shore is expected to fare slightly better, the coast would still move inland, leading to significant impacts.
These predictions are based on the projected sea level rise due to climate change, with estimates suggesting a rise of up to six and a half feet by the end of the century.
If these projections are accurate, it is clear that significant changes are on the horizon for Long Island, and the island may not be able to withstand such changes indefinitely.
Is Long Island At Flood Risk?
Long Island City faces a moderate risk of flooding over the next 30 years, which could significantly impact the daily lives of people living in the area.
Approximately 13% of properties in Long Island are more likely to be severely impacted by flooding during this timeframe.
Aside from property damages, flooding can also disrupt an area’s utilities, emergency services, transportation, and overall economic condition.
Therefore, it is imperative to take appropriate measures to minimize flood risks.
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What Will Be The Future Of Long Island?
Climate scientists predict that Long Island will experience dramatic changes due to climate change over the coming years, such as shorter winters, heavier rainstorms, and hotter summers with scorching heat.
The rising sea levels will lead to stronger storm surges that will potentially threaten beaches, saltwater marshes, and other infrastructure on Long Island.
From the Adirondacks to the beaches on Long Island, there is so much natural beauty in New York State.
It’s up to all of us to protect it for the next generation.
— Governor Kathy Hochul (@GovKathyHochul) April 22, 2023
These changes will likely profoundly impact local communities, ecosystems, and economies of Long Island.
Sea level is projected to rise at least two feet over the next century, and worst-case predictions suggest that Groton’s shore could be completely underwater by 2100.
This means that more than 150 Long Island towns would be impacted, with parts of Groton’s shore submerged and regular flooding in residential neighborhoods and along key roads.
In addition to physical changes, extreme weather events may have significant social and economic repercussions, such as loss of property and livelihoods due to storm damage, increased healthcare expenses due to weather-related complications, and decreased tourism revenue.