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Sea Level Rise and its Effects on the Hudson River, its Shores and Communities

Hudson Estuary SLR map

Maps courtesy Department of Environmental Conservation
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Riverkeeper has become increasingly concerned about projections of Sea Level Rise because estimates are becoming increasingly dire: Findings from the Columbia Center for Climate Systems research (also used by the NYC Panel on Climate Change, ) indicate that the coastal areas of the Lower Hudson Valley and Long Island could experience rises of 2-5 inches by 2020 and 12-23 inches by the end of the century. With rapid ice melt from glaciers and ice sheets, the rise could be as high as 5 – 10 inches by 2020 and 55 inches by the end of the century.

Sea Level Rise is caused by several factors including higher water temperatures (which cause “thermal expansion”), melting ice caps, glaciers and ice sheets, and the slow sinking of the land surface in coastal regions of NYS. Effects are compounded by increases in extreme precipitation and strong storms associated with climate change. (You may have seen the recent NY Times article on this global issue, found at ).

Due to the impacts of increased flooding, powerful storm surges, rising water tables, and saltwater intrusion, potentially devastating impacts to our natural resources and communities will include:

  • Loss of natural resources and ecosystems such as wetlands, dunes, beaches, (these resources provide cost-free and critical ecosystem benefits such as flood protection, water filtration, species habitat and natural beauty and recreational opportunities for our communities).
  • Increased flooding and permanent inundation in coastal areas – along with increased property damage.
  • Hidden impacts to utilities and infrastructure (due to flooding, corrosion, increased waterborne pollution, increased loading of wastewater systems and in some cases, drinking water sources).
  • The possible response of increased “hardening” of the coastline, with structural protections (such as sea walls and bulkheads).

We urge you to learn about and participate in the evolving process related to this matter. Please disseminate this information to other stakeholders. A Statewide Task Force was created in 2007 by the State Legislature to assess impacts to the State’s coastlines from rising seas and to recommend protective and adaptive measures. The Task Force issued a Draft Report, with findings and recommendations, available at The Final Report will be submitted to the State Legislature by January 1, 2011.


Final Report (pdf, 1.5mb)


Comment on Report (pdf, 102kb)


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