Collaborators develop coastal resilience strategies for New York

Written by
Steven Schultz
Steven Schultz, School of Engineering and Applied Science
Sept. 16, 2019

Home to about 3 million people, one of the world’s busiest airports and sensitive coastal ecosystems, Jamaica Bay is a lagoon bordered by Brooklyn and Queens at the southwestern edge of Long Island. This region is vulnerable to an evolving set of threats, including sea-level rise, increasingly intense storms and shifting rainfall patterns. Princeton researchers led a multi-year, cross-disciplinary study to provide actionable strategies for the region’s coastal adaptation.

The Princeton team published a 170-page report that details existing conditions, analyzes climate and sea-level trends, and proposes solutions to protect Jamaica Bay’s neighborhoods, infrastructure and ecology. By studying and applying solutions in New York, the Princeton team seeks to build a broader methodology that could be leveraged to protect other coastal cities.

In the Jamaica Bay report, the authors propose a two-tiered set of storm barriers: an outer 6.7-mile barrier linking high ground to the north and south of the bay, which could be closed to protect John F. Kennedy International Airport and other critical areas against extreme events; while a lower, more inland barrier would provide passive protection against tidal flooding as sea levels rise, yet preserve the ecology of the marshes.

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