Startling revelations from NASA research warn of accelerated subsidence in New York City, known for its iconic skyscrapers and bustling streets.
NASA’s Startling Discovery
A team of scientists from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Rutgers University conducted a study that unveiled specific locations within the city sinking at rates surpassing the overall average of 1.6 millimeters per year experienced by other areas of New York City.
These scientists identified areas such as LaGuardia Airport, Arthur Ashe Stadium, and Coney Island as experiencing notably accelerated sinking rates.
According to WIO News, from 2016 to 2023, the runway at LaGuardia Airport and Arthur Ashe Stadium sank at rates of 3.7 and 4.6 millimeters per year, respectively.
While the city as a whole grapples with subsidence due to the weight of its skyscrapers, these newly pinpointed sinking zones are shrinking due to their location atop ancient, receding glaciers. The study attributes this phenomenon to a combination of natural and human factors.
Tracing Ancient Glacial Influence
Approximately 24,000 years ago, vast glaciers covered substantial portions of New England, with colossal ice walls extending over a mile high, including the area now referred to as Albany in northern New York.
Intriguingly, the research team also identified areas undergoing elevation. East Williamsburg, Brooklyn, Woodside, and Queens were found to be rising at rates of approximately 1.6 mm and 6.9 mm per year, respectively.
Robert Kopp, a co-author of the study from Rutgers University, speculates that groundwater pumping and injection wells used for treating contaminated water may be contributing to the uplift in these regions. However, he emphasizes that further investigations are needed to substantiate this hypothesis.
NASA’s Comprehensive Exploration
This in-depth study was carried out by a collaborative team of NASA scientists and researchers from Rutgers University in New Jersey. Their investigation encompassed the 302.6 square miles comprising New York City’s five boroughs: Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx, and Staten Island.
Over the course of the study, they meticulously measured vertical land movement—both upward and downward, effectively documenting the shifting ground surface in New York City from 2016 to 2023. This comprehensive analysis harnessed interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR), a cutting-edge remote sensing technique that amalgamates multiple 3D observations of the same geographical area to reveal surface movements and topographical transformations.
Implications and Ongoing Research
NASA’s revelations carry significant implications for the future of New York City, particularly with regard to infrastructure and urban planning. As the city grapples with the twin challenges of sea-level rise and land subsidence, understanding these intricate dynamics becomes increasingly imperative.
Continued research and vigilant monitoring are essential to gauge the extent of subsidence and elevation fluctuations in various city areas, ultimately guiding the formulation of strategies to address these geological phenomena.
NASA’s unwavering commitment to this field of study promises to yield invaluable insights into the ever-evolving landscape of one of the world’s most iconic metropolises.