US East Coast cities are sinking: Study reveals more than 15 million Americans live in 'hot spots' from Florida to New Hampshire that are sinking due to groundwater extraction and the weight of infrastructure.

Scientists have made a startling discovery that could affect more than 15 million Americans, submerging almost the entire East Coast of the United States.

Researchers from Virginia Tech have identified “hot spots” from Florida to New Hampshire where water is declining by as much as five millimeters per year due to groundwater extraction and the burden of infrastructure.

The team collected data from space-based radar sites to build digital terrain maps of the East Coast to show where inundated landscapes pose risks to the health of critical infrastructure.

Particularly hard-hit population centers such as New York City, Long Island, Baltimore, Maryland, Virginia Beach, and New Haven, Connecticut, are experiencing rapid “decline” areas.

Virginia Tech researchers have identified 800,000 properties from Florida to New Hampshire that have as much as five millimeters of rainfall per year.

“Continued, undiminished subsidence on the East Coast should cause concern,” said lead author Leonard Ohnen, a graduate student at Virginia Tech.

“This occurs particularly in areas with high population and property density and historical complacency toward infrastructure maintenance.”

The team found that several areas along the mid-Atlantic coast covering more than 1,400 square miles are sinking by more than five millimeters per year, more than the current global average of sea level rise of four millimeters per year.

There are 25 millimeters in one inch.

“The percentage of land area within each county affected by subsidence on the East Coast of the United States has important implications for the frequency and severity of flooding in different communities,” the study published in said. With people.

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“Land subsidence likely increases the area flooded during coastal storm events by modifying baseline flood heights and topographic gradients.”

Ohnin and his professor Manouchehr Sherzai used satellite data from 2007 to 2020 published by the US Geological Survey.

The sinking land also affected major infrastructure such as roads, trains and railways across the East Coast

The sinking land also affected major infrastructure such as roads, trains and railways across the East Coast

Pictured is a satellite image of roads in Virginia

Pictured is a satellite image of roads in Virginia

“We highlight 12 metropolitan cities impacted by spatially variable land subsidence: Boston (Massachusetts) [MA]), Providence (Rhode Island). [RI]), New Haven (Connecticut [CT]), New York, New York [NY]), Atlantic City (New Jersey [NJ]), Baltimore, Maryland [MD]), Norfolk (Virginia [VA]), Wilmington (North Carolina). [NC]), Charleston (South Carolina). [SC]), Jacksonville (Florida), and Miami (Florida), “the study reads.

The team found that much of the East Coast is sinking at a rate of 2 millimeters per year, affecting about 2.1 million people.

According to the study, this amount does not include another 16 million who live in areas where population numbers are declining even more.

Many areas in Atlantic City, Savannah and Charleston were observed to be subsiding at rates faster than four millimeters per year.

Parts of New Jersey and Delaware have subsidence rates of at least three millimeters per year.

The team also broke down the data by county, revealing that between 138 and 163 counties had an average sinking of 1 millimeter per year, and 56 to 152 counties had an average of 2 millimeters per year.

However, the team identified high-risk hotspot counties: Hampton (Virginia), Norfolk (Virginia), Virginia Beach (Virginia), Chesapeake (Virginia), Baltimore City (Maryland), Union (New Jersey), Middlesex (New Jersey), Monmouth. (NJ), Ocean (NJ), New Haven (CT), and several counties in New York City (Queens, Bronx, Nassau, Westchester).

The sinking land also affected major infrastructure such as roads, trains and railways across the East Coast.

This also included popular airports: John F. Kennedy International (JFK) is down 1.7mm per year, LaGuardia Airport is down 1.5mm per year, Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) is down 1.4mm per year, and Boston Logan International Airport has an average drop. At a rate of 1.1 mm annually.

“Here, the problem is not just that the land is sinking. The problem is that the hotspots of land sinking directly intersect with centers of population and infrastructure,” Ohnin said.

“For example, large areas of New York's critical infrastructure, including JFK and LaGuardia airports and their runways, along with their rail systems, are affected by subsidence rates exceeding 2 mm per year.

“The impacts of these matters now and in the future are potential damage to infrastructure and increased flood risk.”

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