A reasonable concern raised by a study the Geological Survey of the United States addresses: What’s happening in New York?, they wondered.

The so-called Big Apple “sinks under the combined weight of all its buildings,” refers to the report published in the academic journal Earth’s Future and quoted on CNN en Español on May 23, 2023.

The city of skyscrapers, business, luxury and glamour, “may be sinking at an average rate of 1-2mm per year, and some areas at a double rate (about 4.5mm),” the researchers estimate and reveal 20 Minutes.

There are more than a million buildings in New York, a fact that is not insignificant; nor does the global weight of them all: 762,000 million kilograms, reports the American news network.

More than 8 million people live in New York City, which is sinking 1-2mm a year as sea levels rise

Earth’s future

New York City is where most of Manhattan’s tallest buildings stand and are anchored directly into the bedrock, the study is expanding.

This could be a problem for a city where sea levels are rising twice as fast as the world. Photo: SPENCER PLATT

At least one dead after garage collapse in Manhattan, four more injured, officials said

Sea level

This information is not given to create panic. The idea is to gradually raise awareness of the reality of the problem and actions for the future, especially in times of climate change.

This gradual process, explains CNN en Español, “could pose a problem for a city where sea levels have risen twice as fast as the world, and are expected to rise between 20 and 76 centimeters from here.” in 2050″.

“There’s a long way to go before the ocean moves inland,” said Tom Parsons, the study’s lead author and a geophysics researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey.

He does remember: “We had a few big hurricanes with Sandy (2012) and Ida (2021) in New York, where heavy rainfall caused flooding in the city.”

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Beyond the weight of the buildings

The reasons for the collapse depend not only on the impressive number of buildings.

Repeated exposure of foundations to salt water can corrode rebar and chemically weaken concrete, leading to structural weakening, the study said.

New York City faces increasing flood risk from rising sea levels, subsidence and increased storm intensity from natural and man-made causes.


“We may see some similarities with construction on very soft ground and artificial fill,” Parsons said.

“New York City is one of the most densely populated coastal regions in the world, and much of its critical infrastructure is built in low-lying coastal areas,” says geophysicist Sophie Coulson.

“Some parts of Lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens,” the press reports, “are among the areas that are sinking faster than average.”

Land subsidence — subsidence — “could pose a flood threat even earlier than sea level rise, research suggests, and not just in New York,” CNN reports.

For more information about the research, click here: Earth’s Future.