Segments in this Video

Introduction: New York (01:50)


See aerial views of New York, a city built up to water's edge. Worldwide, coastal populations are threatened by rising sea levels.

Superstorm Sandy (03:56)

New York's worst natural disaster flooded the city with 1.6 billion gallons of water, displacing tons of debris. Attorney Trevor Holland discusses living in Twin Bridges; the economically challenged and ethnically diverse neighborhood is situated on a flood plain. Rising sea levels threaten the area.

Anticipating Disaster (03:55)

New York City lies in a hurricane zone, and sea levels are rising. Vishaan Chakrabarti and Kristina Hall discuss adaptive attitudes toward climate change. Philip Orton monitors Hudson River; his data creates a computer model predicting a six foot rise by 2100. Hurricane Sandy flooded 17% of the city; additional water will intensify storms.

Underground Systems (03:59)

New York's aging subways transport six million people a day; they require maintenance after Hurricane Sandy. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Director Joseph Lhota explains that sea level rise was not anticipated when the system constructed. Klaus Jacob describes disastrous impacts of future storms with increased water levels.

Urban Development (04:19)

New York's 8.6 million population continues to increase. Matt Knutzen and William Johnson study archived maps and the city's positioning on landfills. Much of lower Manhattan is built on reclaimed land; map comparisons show a manmade flood plain, now occupied by subways and infrastructure.

Aging Infrastructure (03:19)

Economic challenges forced 63% of New Yorkers ordered to evacuate to endure Superstorm Sandy; the city has since implemented hurricane evacuation zones. Rising sea levels will render areas permanently uninhabitable. Daniel Zarrilli and Chakrabarti discuss upgrading infrastructure and implementing defense projects.

Geological Interpretation (06:37)

Jeff Donnelly studies archived core samples, observing evidence of previous storms. A New Jersey salt marsh illustrates an 1821 landscape, when a hurricane more powerful than Sandy struck. Benjamin Horton and his research team collect sediment cores to analyze for micro fossils.

"The Big U" (06:14)

Kai-Uwe Bergmann describes the massive sea wall designed to protect Manhattan; it's surface will be covered by parks and trails. The city has approved the plan, but residents, architects, and scientists express doubts about implementation and effectiveness.

Rebuilding (03:12)

Broad Channel is a small island in Jamaica Bay; resident Frank Bassetti discusses community life and adapting to sea level rise. He and his family evacuated during Superstorm Sandy and returned to severe water damage. The "Build It Back" program encourages raising and strengthening homes and businesses.

Managed Retreat (02:40)

New York is encouraging residents to move out of flood prone areas. Ocean Breeze resident Frank Moszczynski describes storm damage and neighbors' deaths. He took advantage of the buyout program, selling his property to the state and allowing nature to reclaim it.

Buying Time and Mitigating Risks (05:09)

Urban planner and landscape architect Pippa Brashear suggests adapting to, and harnessing rising sea levels. The Living Breakwaters project aspires to protect Stanton Island with a series of raised bio concrete surfaces designed to regenerate marine ecology. New York Metropolitan Transit Authority representatives discuss safeguards for the subway system.

Designing for Resilience (05:07)

Manhattan's Whitney Museum could be the most flood resistant in the world. Simon Koster explains American Copper Buildings' design and safeguards, anticipating floods and storms. Brooklyn's Domino Park is a mixed use development with a waterfront park intended to absorb and redirect water, and slow surge energy.

Adapting to Climate Change (03:37)

The transformer explosion during Sandy left 200,000 people without power; Zarrilli discusses new safeguards to prevent similar outages. New York flood plains are currently occupied by thousands; retreat is practical for some areas, defense for others.

Credits: New York (00:30)

Credits: New York

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Episode 1: New York (Sinking Cities)

Part of the Series : Sinking Cities
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



With 520 miles of shoreline and absolutely no coastal protection, the big question facing New York City is whether one of the world’s greatest cities can defend itself against rising seas and the next big storm.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL169087

Copyright date: ©2018

Closed Captioned

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Only available in USA.