New York has grown too big for the land it rests on, according to a study released showing the city is sinking under its own weight as the waters around it rise, The Cool Down reported.
The study, published in Earth’s Future, finds that the Big Apple, home to more than 8 million people, is sinking at a rate of about 0.04-0.08 inches per year.
“There’s a lot of weight there, a lot of people there,” Tom Parsons, the study’s lead author and a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey, told Time. “The average elevation in the southern part of the island is only 1 or 2 meters (3.2 or 6.5 feet) above sea level—it is very close to the waterline, and so it is a deep concern.”
The researchers calculated the mass of New York buildings and determined their downward pressure on the Earth. They also presented satellite-image evidence of gradual sinking caused by the city’s impressive structures.
The buildings in New York weigh 1.68 trillion pounds total, according to the researchers—a mass that The Guardian equated to 140 million elephants (presumably the large African kind).
The average sea level near the southern tip of Manhattan has risen about 9 inches since 1950, as reported by SeaLevelRise.org. The organization, which based its findings on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data through 2017, also mentioned costs over $4 billion for New York sea-level preparations.
Worldwide, NOAA has noted that sea level rose about 3.8 inches since 1993. For U.S. coasts, it projected 10-12 inches of rise between 2020 and 2050.
A triple threat of sinking, sea level rise, and storms puts New York in increasing flood danger. NOAA reported that NYC flooding could happen 20 times as often by the end of the century.