Environmental Group: Hudson River Flooding, The New Normal

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Sacha Spector of Scenic Hudson was among the presenters at Thursday's seminar in Peekskill.
Sacha Spector of Scenic Hudson was among the presenters at Thursday's seminar in Peekskill. Photo Credit: Art Cusano

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – The Hudson River is a foot higher than it was a century ago and will only continue to rise, said Scenic Hudson members in Peekskill Thursday.

"We have indicators of a warming world all around us," Scenic Hudson scientist Sacha Spector told the dozens of attendees at Thursday's "Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts" seminar at The Harbor restaurant.

Scenic Hudson is the largest environmental group focused exclusively on the Hudson River Valley and utilizes land acquisition and other methods to preserve land.

The seminar was aimed at Hudson Valley municipal leaders, environmental groups and developers looking to find solutions to issues associated with rising waters, such as the flooding that accompanied Hurricane Sandy.

The temperature in the atmosphere is rising, as is the temperature of the land surface, air, sea surface, Spector explained.

"In the 2000s we have experienced a 2-to-1 ratio of record highs and record lows," Spector said. "This year, nationally, we're experiencing around 10-to-1 record highs to record lows."

The Hudson River has been rising about an inch a decade, and that rate will be much higher by 2080, Spector said.

"We can expect to see up to 50 inches under the current carbon emissions scenario here in the lower part of the Hudson. "At that point, we would be seeing not an inch but almost a foot."

While there is no evidence yet that global warming will make tropical storms more frequent, there is evidence that it does make them more powerful.

"This year is guaranteed to be the hottest year globally, on record, so we can expect to see more intense surge events along the East Coast that are not just larger surges but are riding on top of a higher ocean."

Several public officials talked of the effect the rising waters have had on their municipalities. Peekskill Mayor Mary Foster said the recent flooding has complicated the revitalization of the waterfront parks and public spaces.

"We always feel like we're battling the river," Foster said. It seems kind of foolish because the river is there and the water will seek its own level and we're determined to preserve the public space for residents, 

Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell said that, while riverfront businesses were not hurt as badly as they could have been, there was damage in other places.

"The train station got flooded and a good deal of that comes from storm sewers that started backing up, because when the river comes up there's nowhere for it to go," Fixell said.

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