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Why chronic floods are coming to New Jersey

When you look at the world’s population
density map, you might notice a trend. 40% of the world’s population lives within 100 kilometers of a coast. Most of those people are living in and around large
cities and these dense urban areas are growing. That growth calls for more
manufacturing, transportation, power plants, and electrical grids. Resources like this are often placed in cheaper, low elevation land. Which means that for
many coastal communities, sea level rise caused by climate change isn’t just a
problem for the future. It’s a problem right now. One of these places is the New
Jersey Meadowlands. It’s a 30 mile stretch of small towns built on
marshlands. As the land here sinks and sea levels rise, some communities will begin
to flood. Once impacts become noticeable such as water on low-lying streets, water
coming in below seawalls. Once that becomes noticeable and
problematic it’s going to become chronic rather quickly. So how do we know that
sea level is rising? Oxon isotopes. The Gulf Stream. Bathemetry. We have several sources of evidence. Scientists like these guys use a variety
of records to study sea-level change. The longest record where people have been
observing sea-level rise directly is with instruments called “tide gauges.” These instruments measure the level of water as it goes up and down with the tide. Using these gauges alongside geological records and satellites, scientists have
recorded an acceleration in sea level which they expect to continue through
this century. Between 2000 and 2050 we’re probably looking at a range here in New
Jersey of about 1 to 2 feet of sea level rise. It’s going to impact low-lying
infrastructure in particular. Imagine if you’re on a train and you had to wait for
high tide to go out before the train could go through and what a disruption
to the system that would be. And then multiply that
by every other train line or roadway that goes at sea level. The Meadowlands is six miles away from New York City’s Times Square. It’s one of the
busiest transit corridors in the United States. If you draw a line from
Philadelphia to New York City and/or Philadelphia to Boston, you basically
have to go through the Meadowlands. So as a result, all of the infrastructure that
connects this region together bottlenecks down, comes together in the
Meadowlands. By year 2050 researchers estimate that 115 rail stations here
would flood on a chronic basis. And by that time nearly 60% of the region’s
current power generating capacity would be in a floodplain. If you think back to
Superstorm Sandy and one of the iconic images of that storm was all of
lower Manhattan in darkness. It’s not just an inconvenience in a home losing
power, we could shut down the entire Northeast if we lost power. Hurricane Sandy was and is a historic storm. Scientists recorded tides up to 20 feet
higher than usual along the New Jersey and New York coastlines. It was the second costliest storm on record in the United States and the
tunnels that carry hundreds of thousands of commuters every day still need repair. But with a rising sea level flooding will get worse during weather events
that aren’t nearly as extreme as Hurricane Sandy. The simple thing to
understand is that with a higher sea level it requires less of a storm to
produce the same amount of flooding and the same storm will produce more
flooding. And in other parts of New Jersey there have been documented
nuisance flooding events. Those can happen even when it doesn’t rain.
Oftentimes the water will come from the ocean or river spilling its banks. Not so much rainfall flooding. On America’s eastern coast tides cycle four times a
day from high to low to high to low, but at certain points of the year they can
rise much higher than usual. We’re at a point now with continued sea level rise,
that the high tides of the year often times called king tides with maybe a
little extra wind behind them, they become a problem and actually start to flood communities. According to NOAA, the annual number of high tide flood days is
projected to increase fastest in New York City. And in a few decades, coastal
cities on the Atlantic could experience high tide flooding as often as three
times a week. Storm flooding like what Hurricane Sandy brought, could become
more persistent very soon. By the end of the century, many towns in New Jersey
would find themselves underwater frequently. Including this town in the
heart of the Meadowlands. One report suggested it would lose all of its
housing to chronic flooding. The response to sea level rise
boils down to three options: prevention is basically building higher sea walls. Things like berms. Adaptation is elevation. Some critical infrastructure
can’t relocate for economic reasons, so it would just end up being cheaper to
raise them. Retreat is basically returning the land to nature, but the
state of New Jersey doesn’t seem keen on that. In the last decade, a new NFL
stadium was built alongside large swaths of new housing and there’s an airport
expansion plan. But all of that new concrete could increase flooding from
storm water runoff. The Meadowlands is one of the biggest sponges in our region.
If we get rid of those wetlands or if we you know pave them over, we’re going to
be pushing water into other places. It’s very hard to find any community
that’s looking at sea-level rise as a threat that they’re planning for today. Even if this is something that’s 20 years away or so, the decisions we make
today last into those 20 years and beyond and we need to be doing more to prepare
for those. Sea level rise impacts are happening now. We’re seeing them in the
East Coast in terms of increased number of these sunny day flooding events. As sea levels continue to rise impacts and become deeper, more severe, more
widespread and we’re going to have to come to grips with the fact that the way
that we live our lives today is not going to be the way that we live our
lives in the future. Yo! Thank you for watching. If you liked that video
you’re going to love what the Verge Science team is making on their Youtube
Channel. You can check out one of their new videos right here. Again, thanks for watching and I’ll see you soon.

100 thoughts on “Why chronic floods are coming to New Jersey

  1. Some annotations that might be interesting for the curious:

    Early in the video I mentioned that New Jersey is sinking. There's a whole lot more on that point. You can hear from an array of Rutgers University professors on the issue in this fantastic documentary produced by the university in 2016: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7YJgsliy1g

    I also mention the Hudson River Tunnel in passing. Regional Plan Association produced this great explainer video detailing the vulnerabilities facing the entire Northeast Corridor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H1xPZYiQEUY

    – Carlos W.

  2. So a city was built in a marsh and now people are panicking because it's getting wetter?

    People have been adapting to changing topographic and weather conditions for thousands of years. We should certainly take better care of our planet, but that doesn't mean panicking over something we don't fully understand and can't control.

  3. There are easy solutions to infrastructure, although mother nature will always win over land and sea. Respect earth, respect people, and don't fight back nature just flow with it. 🦈🐡🌊🌊

  4. I live in New Jersey and should I be worried? Because I don’t want to be like Florida and get Hurricanes, sorry Florida! Climate Change is real! Warmer Planet, costal Places flood!

  5. Maybe next generation going to understand more about our enviroment
    But religious and Republican is going to be harder to educate
    EPA is helping get most money from the environment today. tomorrow is for nubs ask any Republican

  6. Good thing i live in Euclid, im safe here, nothing happens here. Not earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, tornadoes, or drought.

  7. Thumbs up if you already think climate change is a problem and we need to debate what to do about it! Reply to this comment if you think there's actually a climate change debate! You see, even as I type this comment I know what the audience probably is.

  8. Btw… that shack on Barnegat Bay with the American flag on it… it’s gone. Sandy wiped that nearly 100 year old fishing shack out

  9. I live on the Jersey Shore by wetlands and do waterproofing for a living. The state is doing a lot of work pouring tons of sand, building thick steel & concrete sea walls all up and down my town for 2-3 yrs they've haven't stopped working. And yes in high risk areas it's lots of work but most who live inland can get away with simple water management systems which is most of the population.

  10. Guys! Who ever didn’t hear the warning, there is no litterally gonna be a flash flood right now where I live til 5 pm! I’m scared!

  11. Notice the phrase "as the land here sinks". Since when does land sinking have anything to do with climate science? This is not something you can stop with a carbon tax. It's a natural result of plate tectonics. Mountains and volcanos rise and coastal areas sink due to completely natural causes like earthquakes. They may be disasterous but they won't be legislated away because they are a completely natural function of out planet.

  12. The New Jersey waterfront in Edgewater, Kearney, Harrison and probably Newark, cities along the Passaic and Hackensack river (tidal waters) are about 2 meters above sea level. These are major metropolitan centers and a huge amount of property, infrastructure and population areas. We are working hard, and have been for the last 40 years, to destroy the Wetlands between Hackensack and Rutherford.

  13. I work in Atlantic City and I can tell you that these floods happen more than you would think. There are areas that are always flooded.

  14. Some of the clips they used are from the city my mom works at. Also last year they fixed the boardwalk by, (for some reason) they taking away the other half of the boardwalk and replaced it with a dead end. Then when I went and saw it for myself, that part of the beach was UNDERWATER. GONE. (✖╭╮✖) made me kinda sad too.

  15. Actually there are studies that show the sea level has lowered but to always point to climate change as the cause is very dangerous to do bc it takes the focus off of the local and federal government changing wetlands and river systems which is what causes most of today’s floods

    VOTE B.

  17. Deplorable that Retreat is not on the "keen" list, but the natural method is the most effective. Declaring parts of New Jersey as a national park and replant those endemic species of the marsh should be done.

  18. The New Jersey Meadowlands is used as a prime example of what is coming. However, at 0:47 it is stated that the Meadowlands are sinking. Yes, some lands do sink especially if the ground is weak and a huge amount of building is done. So…why use the Meadowlands as an example when sinking is the problem and not sea level rise? Meadowlands is used as an example because there is no good example which would point to sea level rise as a major problem.

  19. Chronic floods have been coming here since I can remember this timeframe – Probably because its always Monsoon/Typhoon season every year from June till November.🤨

  20. This summer has seen a lot of flooding in areas around north jersey that’s not mentioned in this video. Overdevelopment is the culprit and it just continues.

  21. I've been living in my home state of New Jersey for all my life and this video is really powerful, because it doesn't effect all of New Jersey, but rather the coastal regions and the meadowlands. You see, New Jersey's economy is helped to really important industries, tourism and manufacturing, both of which can really be effected by high tides and rising sea levels. Water can easily flood places like Atlantic City, Cape May, Long Beach Island, and some hotspots for vacationers across the country. What can also be effected is our manufacturing economy. I like how Vox points out how we have to service and cope with New York City, where at the start of the Industrial Revolution, started building factories and power plants to help service the city, considering its close vicinity and low costs. In fact, Paterson, New Jersey, was chosen by Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton as the starting place of the Industrial Revolution, starting by the great Paterson Falls, the second highest waterfall in North America. However, while the state's manufacturing economy has withered away since the rise of labor unions and higher costs around the country for blue collar workers, New Jersey manufacturing has shrunk into two main areas, each for their respective cities. A strip of factories along the Delaware River servicing Philadelphia, and the manufacturing plants that service New York City which is in the Meadowlands area. What I'm trying to say is the threat of climate and change and rising sea levels can be such a hard blow to our state's economy, with at least thousands of jobs being abandoned in addition to as mentioned in the video, many homes and towns being abandoned as well. The meadowlands is in addition to being a manufacturing hub, a transportation hub, one that I have lived just minutes away from my entire life. New Jersey Transit, Garden State Parkway, New Jersey Turnpike, I-95, and Newark Liberty International Airport are all located in the Meadowlands area, because of all of its open space and close vicinity to New York City. Also by the meadowlands is both of New Jersey's largest cities, Newark and Jersey City. Both cities linger close to 300,000 population mark, as they are both up and coming in alternative energies, insurance, medicine, and other economies. The rise in sea level can both effect these cities that serve New Jersey a lot, especially Newark, in which the downtown area is situated on the Passaic River, which is what separates the city of Newark from Harrison and Kearny, which is in the meadowlands. Same thing with Jersey City, where its downtown is on the Hudson River, but many of its homes and middle to lower class housing is next to the meadowlands, sparking a potential major evacuation. In the end, something needs to be done about this in New Jersey.

  22. First of all people in America could just slow global warming a little bit down if they dont drive big Diesel trucks mostly for no reason. Uuhm I forgot its the country of freedom where people are free to waist and poison the planet hahaha

  23. Let's be clear. Caused by GEO ENGINEERING to alter the Climate. Man Made Events!! Mainstream controlled media isn't talking about it but the truth and the facts are there. Do your research because the media is SILENT

  24. I have a good idea bulid alot trucks that can take most of the water on Earth then we won't have this problem so that when all the ice melts I won't be such a disaster

  25. Once again, an incredible, thought-provoking, AMAZING video, Vox! Why isn't it subtitled like most of your other ones are?

  26. These are scientific predictions. Yet, there’s no suggestion as to what
    , if anything, can be done to protect the affected areas.

  27. South Coast of USA and Caribbean Nations: we have the worst weather

    New Jersey: Hold my flash flood warning

  28. A majority of my town had to evacuate today (I live in New Jersey) because of flooding. The area where I live is sinking fast. Sometimes we have to wait hours for the high tide to stop. New Jersey is sinking. My town is sinking. My home is sinking.

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