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Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency, published in February 2015 by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, reviews climate trends and future projections for the City of New York from 2013 to 2100. The report documents recent observations of increasing annual temperatures, levels of precipitation, and sea level rise. These trends are expected to continue—posing significant threats in terms of social and environmental risks and impacts. This report proposes a series of adaptation strategies to increase the City’s resiliency against these projected climate change hazards.

Since 1900, mean annual temperature in New York City has increased by 0.3°F per decade and mean annual precipitation has increased by 0.8 inches per decade. Sea level rise has averaged at 1.2 inches per decade. Based on General Circulation Models (GCMs) generated by the NPCC to simulate local climate change in future decades, key findings in this report include:

  • Mean annual temperature is projected to increase from 4.1 to 5.7°F by the 2050s and from 5.3 to 8.8°F by the 2080s
  • Precipitation will increase approximately 4 -11% by the 2050s and 5-13% by the 2080s, and there will be a rise in the frequency, intensity, and duration of extreme precipitation
  • The frequency and duration of heat waves are very likely to increase 5 to 7 instances per year by 2050 and 6 to 9 instances per year by 2080
  • Sea level rise is expected to reach 11 to 21 inches by the 2050s, and 18 to 39 inches by the 2080s

This research further supports projections for increasing instances of coastal flooding and coastal storms, including hurricanes, affecting the New York metropolitan region as a result of rising temperatures and precipitation.

Figure 3.4. Potential areas that could be impacted by the 500-year flood in the 2020s, 2050s, 2080s, and 2100 based on NPCC2 projections of the high-estimate 90th-percentile sea level rise scenario (Nicholas et al. 2015, 52).

NPCC’s report outlines how projected climate change trends are linked to potential associated health risks in city residents. A shift in regional climate could initiate a variety of outcomes such as respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, compromised mental health, and even fatalities in the event of extreme weather and heat waves. Secondary health hazards are also present in the form of air pollution, pollen, vector-borne diseases, and water-borne illnesses. Negative impacts on public health are especially concerning for vulnerable groups such as elderly and disabled populations, disadvantaged minorities, and those working in recovery efforts.

Maintaining relevant information about climate change indicators will improve the efficacy of resiliency measures to reduce the City’s vulnerability and risk. There are already a number of programs, policies, and initiatives in place that are serving as fundamental tools in support of future resiliency (see "Related Resources" tab).  In addition to continued research in climate related fields, resiliency efforts should operate with increasing levels coordination and collaboration across stakeholder groups. This will ensure that policies and adaptation strategies integrate multiple fields of knowledge and expertise, which in turn makes New York City more resilient to climate change.

For the full report, see “Related Resources” in the right-hand sidebar. 


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