Matt Hrodey in Discover Magazine:
A new study estimates the weight of New York City’s buildings at 1.68 trillion pounds and says that, little by little, they’re sinking into the ground. The Big Apple could ultimately share the same fate as Venice, which is slipping into the Mediterranean Sea at a similar rate. Or it could see a reprise of 2012’s Hurricane Sandy, during which ocean water flooded the city. Compounding the problem for both Venice and New York City is that the two cities will sink into rising waters – scientists expect sea levels to rise 20 to 60 centimeters by 2050. The math starts to look dire for lower Manhattan – the area rests 1 to 2 meters above sea level and is currently sinking at a rate of 1 to 4 millimeters. While the paper stops short of predicting when New York City will dip below sea level, it could happen in a matter of decades.
Much of Manhattan was built on sand and clay and “artificial fill,” which also means garbage and other material. The soils of Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island also contain large amounts of fill, which seems to accelerate the sinking.
New York City’s decline may be due to the weight of its 1.08 million buildings, the study says.