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New York sinking under its own weight: study

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NEW YORK: If New York is the city that never sleeps then how’s this for keeping you up at night? It is also sinking.

The Big Apple is gradually going down partly because of the weight of the skyscrapers that make the concrete jungle famous, a new study has found.

The descent makes the metropolis more vulnerable to rising sea levels and coastal flooding caused by climate change, the researchers noted.

The paper, published this month in the Earth’s Future journal, sought to estimate how the city’s vast infrastructure impacts subsidence.

Subsidence is the sinking of land mass caused by either natural processes such as erosion or human activity like mineral extraction.

The geologists calculated that New York’s more than one million buildings added up to a total mass of 762 billion kilograms of downward pressure on the earth.

CNN said that was equivalent to roughly 1.9 million fully fuelled Boeing 747-400s.

The report concluded that America’s financial capital is sinking at an average rate of one to two millimetres per year.

Some areas built on softer rock or artificial landfill were subsiding as much as four and a half millimetres per year, the study added.

But building fewer skyscrapers will not solve the problem, lead author Tom Parsons said.

“The primary cause of subsidence in New York and along much of the Eastern Seaboard is tectonic and cannot be stopped,” said the geophysicist at the US Geological Survey.

The subsidence is set to exacerbate the impact of sea level rise caused by warming temperatures and the melting of the world’s ice caps.

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2023


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