Climate Change Hazards
Climate change is impacting New York City and its residents, and causing more extreme heat, extreme rainfall, coastal storm surge, and chronic tidal flooding.
AdaptNYC identifies the Climate Change Hazards that pose the greatest threats; the populations and neighborhoods that are most at risk; and the resiliency and adaptation measures the city is taking to protect residents, property, and infrastructure.
Climate change is a present danger and New York City is not waiting to respond. For two decades, New York City has been a global leader in urban sustainability and resiliency. Adapting New York City to climate change requires a citywide, multi-generational effort that marshals all available resources. New York City is investing billions of dollars to implement hundreds of resiliency projects and sweeping policy changes with a multi-hazard and multi-layered approach.
Adaptation means preparing New York City’s communities, infrastructure, buildings, land, critical infrastructure, and natural systems for climate change impacts now and in the future. This requires close coordination across city agencies, partnership across all levels of government, and active engagement with New Yorkers. Adaptation is one component of New York City’s integrated strategy to prepare for a changing climate, along with working toward a more sustainable, equitable and just city.
The City of New York uses the latest climate science to inform resiliency and adaptation decision-making, as well as expand opportunities to work with local communities and institutions to understand needs and priorities.
The New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC): A 20-member independent advisory body that synthesizes scientific information on climate change and advises City policymakers on local resiliency and adaptation strategies that aim to protect against rising temperatures, increased flooding, and other hazards.
The Climate Vulnerability, Impact, and Adaptation Analysis (VIA): Assessing future climate change and its potential impacts to inform the City’s decision-making by bring together scientific and local information on social and economic vulnerability, public health, and climate change to inform policy and action for communities most vulnerable and at-risk.
Climate Change Adaptation Task Force and Inter-Agency Climate Assessment Team: Since 2008, MOCEJ has convened the Climate Change Adaptation Task Force (CCATF) in order to review the climate change projections as recommended by the New York City Panel on Climate Change and evaluate potential impacts. CCATF is comprised of over 60 different organizations including city, state, and federal agencies, private organizations, and entities responsible for managing the City’s public health, natural systems, critical infrastructure, buildings, and economy. Given the broad remit of and large number of organizations that comprise CCATF and other boards, MOCEJ has also established the Inter-agency Climate Assessment Team (ICAT) to strengthen the relevance of NPCC climate assessments to agency policy and decision-making by coordinating and supporting interactions between NPCC Working Groups (WG) and City staff. Together, these entities entrench climate data into the City’s decision-making and that of our critical partners.
The New York City State of Climate Knowledge: Maintains a public agenda for climate research in NYC. The agenda includes public engagement, united local knowledge, academic climate research, and City agency know-how to co-produce actionable results.
Hazard Mitigation Plan: Enables the City to continuously identify, assess and reduce our risk from an array of hazards threatening our city.
Climate Adaptation Plan for Public Housing (NYCHA): Lays out how climate hazards will affect NYCHA in the coming decades; where there are specific vulnerabilities to climate hazards; and an approach to preparing NYCHA for a changing climate.
Comprehensive Waterfront Plan: Articulates the City’s vision for a more equitable, more resilient, and healthier waterfront for all New Yorkers.
Cool Neighborhoods NYC: To combat extreme heat, the City implemented a $100 million program designed to keep New Yorkers safe and cool by expanding the City’s tree canopy and investing in social resiliency programs.
Rainfall Ready NYC: Offers short-term, actionable steps New Yorkers and city government can take to prepare for extreme rain together.
Wastewater Resiliency Plan: Identifies and prioritizes infrastructure that is most at risk of flood damage for resiliency upgrades.
Special Initiative for Recovery and Resiliency (SIRR): Contains actionable recommendations both for rebuilding the communities impacted by Hurricane Sandy and increasing the resilience of infrastructure and buildings citywide.
Progressive Design Build: The City is actively advocating for the state to pass Progressive Design Build legislation to more efficiently design and build critical resiliency infrastructure.
Zoning for Carbon Neutrality: The Department of City Planning is working with MOCEJ on updates to the City’s regulations to Zoning for Zero Carbon that support the City’s ambitious climate goals. These updates will remove regulatory impediments to solar installation, support the growth of EV and micromobility infrastructure, improve energy efficiency and building performance standards for retrofits and new construction, and help advance the city’s stormwater and waste management goals.
NYC Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines: Provides guidance and tools that go beyond current building codes and standards to incorporate forward-looking climate data into design. These step-by-step instructions help engineers, architects, and project managers prepare for future conditions when they design City facilities. These guidelines have been replicated across the nation and most recently were codified into law, following a 5-year pilot via LL41 (2021).
Transportation Resiliency: Track climate risks facing the City’s diverse transportation assets, from streets and sidewalks to bridges and streetlights. Guidelines have been developed to ensure that the projects built today can withstand the climate threats of tomorrow.
Design and Planning for Flood Resiliency: Provides guidance for developing and renovating coastally resilient waterfront parks. The Guidelines are specifically tailored for NYC Parks with the hope that other planners, designers, consultant firms, agencies, communities, and homeowners can use them as a reference for coastally resilient park planning and design.
Neighborhood Coastal Flood Protection Guidance: Plan and design neighborhood coastal flood protection projects that are equitable, resilient, and well-designed.
Collaboration with State Utility and Authority Partners: NYC actively engages with our utility and state partners including ConEd, National Grid, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Port Authority, and others to ensure the critical interdependencies across our region are considering the latest climate projections and prepared for current and future vulnerabilities.
FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation grants: Including Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) and the Flood Mitigation Assistant (FMA) program, they help ensure that the city can continually identify, assess and reduce our risk from an array of hazards. Most recently, NYC won BRIC grants for the Seaport Coastal Resilience Project and the Clinton Houses Cloudburst Project. For FY 2022, New York City agencies submitted subapplications for nearly $200M in funding from the BRIC and FMA programs.
Housing Mobility: The City is actively pursuing federal resources to develop programs and services that support equitable, voluntary housing mobility for New Yorkers who live in areas with high flood risk. The City’s goals are to limit and prevent involuntary long-term displacement caused by flooding and equip homeowners and renters in flood-prone areas with the resources to plan and budget for a future move and transition to equitable and resilient long term land stewardship. Housing mobility services, as described in the NYC Comprehensive Waterfront Plan, will prioritize the needs of low- and moderate-income households. They will also reflect engagement with housing advocates and with populations that disproportionately experience life-safety hazards caused by flooding, displacement risk, and housing discrimination.
Pre-Disaster Mitigation Funding: The City is also advocating for the federal government to create a coastal infrastructure formula funding program for pre-disaster mitigation. Without dedicated formula funding it is difficult to be efficient and effective in executing large scale multi-year projects. As a nation, we allocate formula funds for recognized needs such as housing and transportation – resiliency must be added to that list.
Resilience Hubs: NYC is developing a plan for a network of resilience hubs in NYCHA developments with a $256,000 grant from FEMA. This funding will help inform future capital investments that can transform community spaces on NYCHA’s campuses into resilience hubs that include features such as backup power, reliable heating and cooling, charging stations, and medical refrigeration.
Climate change is causing more frequent and intense heat waves. Every year on average, more people die from extreme heat than from all other types of extreme weather. But heat deaths are preventable. New York City is adapting the built environment and public realm to keep New Yorkers cooler on hot days.
Climate Science and Data
Expanding Tree Canopy
Parks is celebrating a massive climate milestone reached in tree canopy expansion; more trees have been planted on city streets this past fiscal year than in the past five fiscal years, with over 13,000 planted in FY22. In September 2022, the City committed an additional $112 million for the program to plant an estimated 36,000 additional trees per year in HVI-4 neighborhoods through 2026. Parks has prioritized planting trees in neighborhoods most at risk, including: Williamsbridge, Woodlawn, Eastchester, Edenwald, Soundview, Morris Park in the Bronx; Seagate, Coney Island, East Flatbush, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Flatlands, Sunset Park in Brooklyn, West Harlem, East Harlem, Lower East Side in Manhattan; and Hunters Point, Sunnyside, Long Island City, Elmhurst, and Laurelton in Queens.
Since 2017, 11,634 street and park trees will have been planted in the most heat-vulnerable (HVI-5) neighborhoods, with an estimated 14,530 more to be planted through Spring 2024.
Cooling Streets and Roofs
In 2022, the NYC Department of Transportation was awarded a $320,500 FEMA BRIC grant to develop new heat mitigation strategies for streetscapes. This grant was one of only two heat mitigation FEMA BRIC grants awarded nationwide. The findings from this project will inform future street redesign projects and will help the New York City develop better benefit cost analyses for heat mitigation projects.
New York City will support legislation that pilots the use of cool pavements, light-colored pavements and coating materials that are designed to reduce temperatures in streets and public spaces.
Since 2009, the city has coated over 11 million square feet of rooftop. Since 2017, 70% of new cool roofs have been installed in high HVI areas. New York City will continue to prioritize outreach and new Cool Roofs in high HVI areas.
Cool It! NYC is an online interactive map that directs New Yorkers to outdoor cooling features such as well-shaded streets, parks with sprinklers and water fountains, and fire hydrants with spray caps. During heat emergencies, New York City operates an extensive network of Cooling Centers, primarily in libraries, community centers, and senior centers, offering safe, free access to cooling during heatwave events. CBOs can also sign up to be a cooling center partner.
The City has advocated for increased Federal funding of the State-administered Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP); policy changes to help lower physical and utility-cost barriers for in-home cooling; and more efficient cooling technology.
For more information, see Extreme Heat hazard.
The increasing threats caused by coastal flooding present complex challenges that require innovative adaptation solutions. No single strategy or project will eliminate all coastal flood risks. Multiple adaptation measures and layers of resiliency are critical components of the city’s coastal flood adaptation planning.
Climate Science and Data
Protecting and Expanding Natural Coasts
NYC is protecting its coast lines by expanding natural coastal resources and constructing new coastal protection infrastructure. NYC will continue to work with partners and advocate for funding that supports the development and implementation of coastal resiliency programs and projects.
New York City has partnered with the US National Parks Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers improving out natural systems by managing and preserving 10,000 acres of wetlands at Jamaica Bay, which provides critical resiliency benefits for coastal storm surge.
Building Coastal Protection
Since Hurricane Sandy in 2012, NYC has constructed award-winning coastal protection projects, an entirely new class of infrastructure for the city, that protect our waterfront neighborhoods from devastating storm surge and regular tidal flooding. These complex projects are among the first of their kind in a dense urban environment like New York City.
The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) in partnership with New York DEC, New Jersey DEP, and the City of New York, will study the management of future coastal flood risk through the NY& NJ Harbor & Tributaries Coastal Storm Risk Management Study (HATS) to support the long-term resilience and sustainability of the coastal ecosystem and surrounding communities and reduce the economic costs and risks associated with flood and storm events.
NYCHA Recovery and Resiliency
New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA)’s Recovery and Resiliency program is building back safer, stronger, and smarter by improving structural resiliency and infrastructure protection. 35 NYCHA developments have received over $3 billion in resiliency funding through FEMA. 20 NYCHA developments are receiving new flood-proofed heating and hot water systems. 210 buildings are now powered by permanent, full-load generators for power outages.
Build It Back
Through the Build It Back program, the City helped 12,500 families recover from Hurricane Sandy by providing resources for impacted New Yorkers in all five boroughs to repair, rebuild, and elevate their homes, or relocate.
The NYC Department of Buildings has established comprehensive building code regulations in the coastal floodplain to promote the public health, safety, and general welfare and minimize damages from coastal flooding.
The NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) has updated zoning regulations—Zoning for Coastal Flood Resiliency (ZCFR)—that allow homeowners, business owners, architects and others to design resilient buildings that are better protected from flood risk, reduce flood insurance costs, and recover quickly from other future disasters.
DCP created Special Coastal Risk Districts in 2017 to address coastal areas that are currently at exceptional risk from flooding.
Building on precedents set after Sandy, the City will incorporate future flood risk into building and zoning code requirements based on the development of a groundbreaking Future Flood Risk Map that incorporates climate projections.
NYC is using a multi-layered strategy to prepare for extreme rainfall and manage stormwater, using grey and green infrastructure to improve the health of our local waterways and prevent flooding. Flooding from extreme rain can happen in coastal and inland areas, with low-lying and highly impervious areas at greater risk. Over the last three decades, NYC has transformed its approach to stormwater management and resilience to extreme rainfall.
Climate Science and Data
New York City is incorporating cloudburst design principles into city construction, starting with the most vulnerable areas. Cloudburst management implements a combination of methods that absorb, store, and transfer stormwater to minimize flooding from cloudburst events using grey and green infrastructure. Four new locations for Cloudburst projects have been announced for Corona and Kissena Park, Queens, Parkchester, Bronx, and East New York, Brooklyn. They join the city’s ongoing work in South Jamaica and St. Albans, Queens and East Harlem, Manhattan. In 2023, NYCHA announced progress on cloudburst management at 8 NYCHA developments.
NYC will utilize the $188 million in CDBG-DR funding awarded following Tropical Cyclone Ida, including projects such as expanding green infrastructure ($30 million), public housing restoration and resiliency ($88 million), and developing resilient community spaces in two affordable senior housing developments ($9 million).
In Southeast Queens alone, DEP has completed 18 of 44 projects with another 17 in various stages of design, procurement, and construction. It has built out sewers with 125 miles of new/updated sewer infrastructure in the last 5 years.
Optimizing sewer performance through new and upgraded infrastructure, enhanced maintenance, and employing new technologies to identify emerging issues and target solutions for this critical infrastructure.
Maximizing stormwater capture on public and private buildings and infrastructure through the 2022 Unified Stormwater Rule will require developers of large parcels to retain as much stormwater on site as possible and detain the rest onsite.
Green Infrastructure Stormwater Management
Green infrastructure collects stormwater from streets, sidewalks, and other hard surfaces before it can enter the sewer system or cause local flooding. By reducing the amount of stormwater that flows into the Sewer System, green infrastructure helps prevent Sewer Overflows and improves the health of local waterways. DEP has constructed over 11,000 green infrastructure assets and 17,000 linear feet of porous pavement to capture heavy rainfall, improve water quality, and prevent flooding, using nature-based measures. DEP’s Green Infrastructure Grant Program funds such initiatives as a rooftop farm on Staten Island that grows healthy organic food and absorbs stormwater, in an effort to help reduce neighborhood flooding and protect the health of New York Harbor. By keeping rainfall out of the local drainage system, this rooftop farm — situated on top of the Nicotra Group’s Corporate Commons Three building — helps manage stormwater and decrease neighborhood flooding.
The Bluebelt Program
Bluebelts are ecologically rich and cost-effective drainage systems that naturally handle the runoff precipitation that falls on our streets and sidewalks. NYC has completed 84 Bluebelt projects across 3 boroughs and piloted stream daylighting to capture and manage stormwater using large-scale nature-based measures.
Southeast Queens Project
The Interactive Southeast Queens Project Map highlights projects that are in construction or have been completed as part of the City’s $1.9 billion effort to reduce flooding and upgrade infrastructure throughout Southeast Queens.
Resilient NYC Partners
This City-funded program supports private property owners to build rain gardens, fix drainage issues, replace paved areas, and other stormwater resiliency efforts.
Building-Level Stormwater Management
NYC is studying the strategic deployment of backwater valves and the potential to install these devices in the most at-risk residential buildings, through a FEMA Flood Mitigation Assistance grant, to protect homes, businesses, and public health from wastewater backing up from the sewer during extreme storms.
The Trust for Public Land, in partnership with the DEP, the Department of Education (DOE), the School Construction Authority (SCA), and funders, are transforming schoolyards in vulnerable areas into community playgrounds, featuring green infrastructure to manage stormwater and give quality park access to residents within a 10-minute walk of the school.
For more information, see Extreme Rainfall hazard.
Ready New York: An emergency public education campaign that prepares communities for all types of emergencies and hazards with such measures as writing an emergency plan, choosing a meeting place, gathering supplies, and preparing a Go Bag.
Flood Insurance: The City has undertaken extensive outreach and education through FloodHelpNY.org to increase NFIP enrollment by about 50% since Hurricane Sandy. The City is committed to expanding outreach and education efforts about flood risk and flood insurance to increase awareness and drive flood insurance uptake among homeowners, renters, and business owners to support New Yorkers physical and financial resiliency. In 2023, FloodHelpNY released Community Flood Action Toolkits.
NYC will continue to advocate for federal legislative reforms to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which provides federally-backed flood insurance for NYC property owners, renters, and businesses to help them repair and rebuild faster after a flood. Suggested reforms include an affordability program, to ensure flood insurance remains accessible for the households that need it the most.
The City will support State and Federal legislation that promotes flood risk disclosures and work with partners to ensure residents have access to transparent information about a property’s flood history and flood insurance pricing before a property is bought or rented.
Retro-Fit Funding Assistance: NYC will continue to identify ways to support resilience retrofits for 1-to-4 family homeowners. The City will do this through financial and technical assistance in partnership with state, federal, and non-profit partners that considers how retrofits may impact renters and influence displacement. It will also work to reduce regulatory barriers in the design & construction process that prevent or discourage resiliency retrofits.
NYC is actively advocating for additional federal funding and flexibility for more equitable investments and continues to explore ways to expand the pool of resources available for building owners to undertake resiliency retrofits. This includes working with private and non-profit resources; and with FEMA to align grant eligibility with federal goals to increase resiliency and sustainability in dense urban areas, fund project planning and scoping, support heat mitigation projects, incentivize nature-based solutions and wetlands projects, and improve benefit-cost analyses to better account for risk in urban areas and capture more project benefits in low-resourced neighborhoods.
Resilient NYC: Works with city agency, non-profit, and private partners to develop programs, resources, and financing to support critical infrastructure protections and deploy building-level retrofits that are resilient and sustainable in single and multi-family buildings, such as backwater valves, installation of flood-resistant materials, and the elevation of mechanical systems in at-risk communities.
SBS Business PREP (BPREP): Supports small businesses, the backbone of the City’s economy, through expanding citywide to help small businesses better prepare for emergencies like those caused by flooding and power outages. The City is expanding BPREP through a $6M commitment to reach an additional 1,040 businesses citywide, on top of the $7.1 million already invested.
On the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy, the Adams Administration launched Climate Strong Communities, the next generation of resiliency and sustainability projects that are proactive, multi-hazard, and centered on environmental justice.
The Mayor’s Office, the Environmental Justice Interagency Working Group, and the Environmental Justice Advisory Board are working on the City’s first comprehensive study of the present state of environmental justice in the NYC. The Environmental Justice Report will identify the city’s environmental justice areas, analyze environmental and climate issues, and identify which communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental burdens and not seeing the benefits of green investments made by the City. The report will study issues citywide but also include a focus on how these issues impact the city’s environmental justice areas.
When we bring our voices, our action, and our advocacy to our schools, our homes, and our workplaces, we can create a more sustainable and resilient future for the 8.3 million people who call our five boroughs home.Take Action Now