New York City is experiencing vertical land motion, with an average sinking rate of 0.06 inches (1.6 millimeters) per year between 2016 and 2023. This phenomenon is attributed to multiple factors, including natural processes and human activities. The land sinking is primarily a result of glacial isostatic adjustment, as the area compensates for the uplift that occurred when an ice sheet covered New England around 24,000 years ago.
However, the recent research conducted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has revealed new insights into New York's changing landscape. Some areas, such as Queens, are sinking at a faster rate due to being built on landfills. LaGuardia Airport's runway 13/31 and Arthur Ashe Stadium, for example, have experienced significant subsidence. Similarly, Governor's Island and Rikers Island are also sinking hotspots linked to landfill activity.
Interestingly, the study also found areas where the land is rising or uplifting. East Williamsburg in Brooklyn is experiencing an upward movement of approximately 0.06 inches (1.6 millimeters) per year. Woodside in Queens, on the other hand, saw a rise of 0.27 inches (6.9 millimeters) per year between 2016 and 2019, although the movement has now stabilized. This short-term uplift could be influenced by factors like groundwater pumping and injection wells.
Ongoing investigations, including the upcoming NASA-Indian Space Research Organization Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission, will further monitor surface displacement worldwide. Given the concerns of sea level rise, this high-resolution data can be vital for future planning and mitigation strategies. The research conducted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory provides valuable insights into the complexities of New York City's changing landscape. While the city as a whole experiences a slow sinking rate attributed to glacial isostatic adjustment, certain areas, such as Queens, are sinking at a faster rate due to being built on landfills. Specific locations like LaGuardia Airport's runway 13/31, Arthur Ashe Stadium, Governor's Island, and Rikers Island have seen significant subsidence.
On the other hand, there are also areas within the city where the land is rising or uplifting. East Williamsburg in Brooklyn is experiencing an upward movement, while Woodside in Queens saw a short-term rise before stabilizing. These movements could be influenced by factors like groundwater pumping and injection wells. This in-depth understanding of the vertical land motion in New York City is crucial, especially as the city grapples with the challenges of sea-level rise. Ongoing investigations and missions like the upcoming NASA-Indian Space Research Organization Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) will continue to monitor surface displacement worldwide, providing high-resolution data that is vital for future planning and effective mitigation strategies.