NASA scientists believe these NYC areas are sinking the fastest

NASA scientists believe parts of New York City are sinking, albeit ever so slowly fractions of inches per year.

Still, it's something scientists are watching closely. 

"We have found that there are some spots that are sinking much faster than others and this is, of course, makes flooding concerns of greater concern in certain areas," said Brett Buzzanga, an earth scientist at the NASA jet propulsion laboratory.


New York City faces sinking threat, study warns: 'It’s inevitable'

The research team calculated all the structures add up to about 1.7 trillion tons of concrete, metal and glass, around the mass of 4,700 Empire State buildings pressing down on the Earth.

Buzzanga is one of a team of researchers that analyzed the upward and downward vertical land motion in the New York City metropolitan area from 2016 to 2023. 

What areas are included?

Buzzanga said basically parts of the city built on landfill are sinking the fastest. 

The areas include the Holland Tunnel, Arthur Ashe Stadium, the southern part of Governor's Island, Battery Park City and LaGuardia Airport. 

"There's some landfill that some sites have been built on, including parts of LaGuardia Airport and these we see sinking a bit faster," Buzzanga said. "We also see that the Arthur Ashe stadium is sinking quite fast and we know a few years ago that they had to have a special roof built because they knew about this problem. So it's a very nice light cloth roof that they use there."

Scientists hope the information can help city planners, especially when it comes to flooding. 

"I think the key takeaway here is that not everywhere is sinking at the same rate and so really being able to devote resources and being able to just kind of know these different areas and how they're how they're changing in relation to one another is a way that that resources can be allocated in an efficient way," Buzzanga said.

The scientists can pinpoint not just an area, but narrow it down. For example, at LaGuardia, the left runway is sinking faster than other places in the airport. 

It's information that can help transportation officials know what needs to be reinforced. But why is this happening? Scientist said it's a combination of what we can control and what we can't – human behavior and natural forces dating back to the ice age.