2 years later The remnants of Hurricane Ian dumped up to 10 inches of rain on New York City in just two hours, and heavy rain continues to flood the metropolis today. This is one of many cities around the world grappling with the counterintuitive effects of climate change. It may also become more moist instead of dry.
As the planet warms, we will experience more rain and individual storms will become more intense. The pain will be especially acute in urban areas, which are built on stormwater infrastructure designed to handle past rainfall. Remember what builders of the last century wanted? Sewers and canals that drain rainwater into rivers, lakes, and oceans as quickly as possible before it collects. In most cases this worked. But in recent years, rare and devastating floods have become more frequent. Ancient sewage systems are now tasked with clearing ever-growing floodwaters.
Today’s concrete and asphalt cities also form a kind of seal on the landscape. There are many hard surfaces, such as roads and parking lots, but only a few soft surfaces, such as parks. Being impermeable, water cannot sink to the ground and must flow forcefully throughout the town. Turn subway stairs into a waterfall and swamp school.
Sure, improving sewage systems is essential, but city planners are fundamentally reimagining urban areas as “sponge cities” designed to absorb water and reduce flooding. Clearly, New York City still has room for improvement in flood management. However, New York City Department of Environmental Protection spokesperson Edward Timbers said in a statement to WIRED that New York City currently has more than 12,000 green infrastructure assets across the city. This includes rain gardens, or green strips by the roadside that absorb rain. blue belt, or preserved natural drainage systems such as ponds and wetlands. All of this green infrastructure helps prevent rainwater from entering the sewage system.
“New York City has the largest and most aggressive green infrastructure program in the nation,” Timbers said. “Last year we developed new rainwater regulations New development or redevelopment is needed to manage stormwater on-site and keep it from running off onto roads where it can cause flooding. ”
Similarly, Los Angeles has installed rain gardens to channel rainwater indoors. spreading ground— basically a large earthen bowl where water drips underground. In the drought-stricken West of the United States, this will return as much rainwater as possible to the aquifer, where it can be used as tap water for drinking if needed.
Green spaces do more than just reduce flooding. They beautify the cityscape, Improving the mental health of residents.they filter out Microplastics and other pollutants, preventing them from reaching sensitive bodies of water such as rivers. Also, when the weather is hot, plants “sweat”, which makes the surrounding area cooler. This reduces the urban heat island effect, the tendency for cities to become much hotter than their surrounding rural areas. If these green spaces are urban farms, you can do all that while producing food.
The problem is that land in cities is expensive, so green space isn’t cheap either.Where landscapes cannot be planted, cities new york is expanding permeable pavement. Rather than acting as a barrier to rainwater, these surfaces allow rain to penetrate into the underlying soil.Some cities have started charging water customers extra. rainwater feewhich uses satellite imagery to determine a land’s permeability and charges you if it has more pavement than vegetation.
Cities of the future may become noticeably greener or more delicate. But as the earth warms, future rains may become a blessing rather than a burden if it makes them happier and more resilient.