Experts Releasing Detailed Study on How Climate Change Will Affect Communities Around Jamaica Bay

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, protecting the city against rising sea levels is a priority of numerous government agencies, and now, experts are releasing the most detailed study yet of how climate change will affect communities around Jamaica Bay and what can be done to keep them from flooding. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.

You remember Hurricane Sandy's devastation. As seas rise, experts say storm flooding could worsen.

A new model projects where floods could crest in 35 years, along the Rockways and in southern Queens and Brooklyn. The bluer the color, the deeper the water.

Crews are building barriers, but experts say they may not be enough.

"Sandy was larger than we anticipated, right? In the future, we're going to also have events that are greater than what we anticipated," says Guy Nordenson of Structures of Coastal Resistance.

The good news is that the same experts say flood-prone areas like Jamaica Bay can be retrofitted to absorb those storms. 

For the last 18 months, teams have studied how. They say the key is not just to build more flood barriers on the bay side, but also to nourish the restoration of the Jamaica Bay marshland. 

New tunnels and outlets would flush the nearly 40-square-mile area, bringing in sand that would organically build marshy ridges, ridges that would break waves before hitting land.

"Currently, what happens when we rebuild the wetlands is that the Army Corps goes out and lays down a grid and starts to build up the land," Nordenson says. "This will be a more natural, gradual process." 

There are studies of other coastal communties in the northeast that are also vulnerable to severe flooding. The hope is that this exhibit not only sparks changes in not just those communties, but to others similarly threatened.

In a flood-prone community near Atlantic City, canals would take the place of streets. The result is called an amphibious suburb.

"It's up to teams like these to continue to develop ideas and sort of accumulate ideas and get them out there and get governments interested," said Anna Knoell of Structures of Coastal Resilience.

Governments that will need to pay to translate these ideas into real projects. There are no pricetags yet for what's proposed.

The exhibit is funded by the Rockefeller Administration. An exhibit runs through the weekend at an event space in the Gowanus section of Brooklyn. For more information, visit structuresofcoastalresilience.org.

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