New York City Is Sinking at Roughly Same Rate as Venice, Researchers Say

Add this to our ongoing list of planetary concerns against which we may not stand a chance.

view of city and water
Image via Getty/Howard Kingsnorth
view of city and water

More often than not these days, the thought of sinking into the ocean sounds like a more than viable alternative to the incessant fuckeries of modern life. Per a recently released research article, such sinking stats are actually on par with those of Venice, at least for those in New York City.

Indeed, as Business Insider highlighted last Friday, the article in question noted that NYC is sinking at an estimated rate of 1 to 2 mm a year. The paper, available here via Advancing Earth and Space Science and titled “The Weight of New York City: Possible Contributions to Subsidence From Anthropogenic Sources,” also notes that several areas of NYC are actually sinking at a faster rate.

While there are several pinpointed factors at play here, including rising sea levels, a key one that’s given a great deal of attention in the piece and its ensuing coverage is the sheer weight of the city. Notably, per recent census data, there are currently 8.5 million people living in NYC.

As for that highly headlineable Venice comparison, Insider cites recent research as also placing its sinking rate at between 1 and 2 mm per year.

When laying out the conclusions of its research, the authors of the NYC-focused paper pointed to an “accelerating problem” for coastal regions in the city related to an uptick in hurricane strength and a rise in sea level. Potentailly worsening the issue, as touched on above, is the region’s ongoing “urbanization”—i.e. a concentration of residents in increasingly non-rural settings.

Of course, all of this is beyond being understood at the aggregated-purely-for-clicks level, so it's best (as always) to simply read the full paper yourself.

For those up on their sinking news, you’ll no doubt have already been exposed to a piece from the unfortunately-widely-cited-for-traffic-reasons tabloid The New York Post featuring comments from a geophysicist who proposed that NYC should consider becoming structurally similar to Venice in the future.

In short, perhaps we should all accept that everything—even vaguely liveable conditions—is fleeting. Even this very article is, in a sense, wholly temporary. In fact, even if you've made it this far down the page, it's still safe to say that you won't even remember what you just read an hour from now.

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