The New York subway was not built for 21st century storms

Just in one In a few hours on Wednesday night, New York City received between 6 and 10 inches of rain—more than last year in San Jose, California. The water in the basement apartment rose and leaked from the roof. Rainwater poured into the subway station and gathered on the tracks. The wreckage of Hurricane Ida, Attacked the Gulf Coast earlier this week, Bring floods to the Northeast. By Thursday night, the death toll in the entire region reached 40. The subway delays and outages continue.

You see, the city’s infrastructure was built at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century to withstand storms that occur every 5 to 10 years. Now, cruel, record-breaking storms occur every year.What Ida left behind turns the daily commute scene into a disturbing reminder climate change Come for all of us. Wildfire thundercloud in the West, Texas blackout, Hurricane in the south, Pouring rain in the east: “This is what we said would happen 20 years ago,” said Zeke Hausfather, a climate scientist and director of climate and energy at the Breakthrough Institute. “It’s crazy to see all this happening at the same time.”

The storm flooded the road. But it also overwhelms alternatives designed to keep people away from cars: bike lanes, sidewalks, and public transportation systems. For a while in New York on Thursday, everything was underwater. The image of water overflowing to the subway station brought the crisis home. “You don’t have to be someone who knows infrastructure very well to know that this is a problem,” said Michael Horodniceanu, former president of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Infrastructure Corporation and current Chairman of the Institute of Building Innovation. New York University. “In my opinion, we are starting to see the result of giving a certain level of attention to what our infrastructure is doing.”

Nine years ago, New York ushered in the first climate-related alarm bells. Hurricane Sandy It brought a storm surge, flooded low-lying areas, and yes, flooded subway stations. Since then, the city has spent nearly 20 million U.S. dollars on urban climate protection, According to the Mayor’s Office of Resilience. But some of the funds are used to solve a problem different from the one raised by Ada: water from the river. This week, all damp things fell from the sky, even threatening areas above sea level.

Due to the abnormal weather, Ida’s remnants dumped all the water in the northeast. You might expect that rainfall will decrease as the planet warms, but in some parts of the world, including the northeastern and midwestern United States, rainfall is decreasing. Increase In heavy rainfallHausfather said temperature directly affects how much moisture the atmosphere can “hold” before it starts to rain. Colder air contains less moisture, while hotter air contains more moisture, which then falls in the form of rain.

Hurricanes feed on heat: The reason Ida strengthens so quickly is because the unusually warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico strengthened it before it made landfall, resulting in wind speeds of 150 miles per hour. As a swarm of warm air, Ada retains a lot of moisture. Therefore, although the wind weakened as it advanced inland, the storm still carried a large amount of water north, and the states along the way were soaked.

Climate change did not cause Hurricane Ida, but scientists know how climate change can make hurricanes like Ida worse. “This is one of our most basic physical relationships in the climate: every level [Celsius] If you warm the atmosphere, the moisture in the air will increase by about 7%, which means you may experience more severe rainfall events,” Hausfather said. “In the past few decades, hurricanes have become more and more frequent. The wetter it is, it is expected to continue in the future. Scientists also show that due to the warming of the sea in the Gulf, hurricanes have intensified faster and faster in recent years, just like Ida.

No one could foresee this when the bones of New York City were pieced together more than 100 years ago. When engineers dream of a sewer system, they imagine the worst storm that the system may expel. Such storms may only occur once in 10 or 20 years. New York is designed for storms that occur once in five years. Scientists still need to list the monsters that have just flooded the city, but it is certainly not one-fifth. The indicator is more like centuries.

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