The Nature of New York - Air
Located half way up the eastern coast of the United States, New York City experiences many of the major weather systems of North America. Frigid winter air from Canada, summer storms form the Carolinas, heat waves from the Midwest. High humidity and changing tides are constant reminders of the contiguous Atlantic Ocean.
New York generates its own micro-climate. Technically, it is a “heat island” with pavement, concrete, asphalt and metallic elements of the city trapping solar radiation faster than the surrounding suburbs. Summer temperatures can be 20 degrees higher in the city’s core, a phenomenon partially mitigated by parks and the planting of new trees and the installation of “greenroofs” on buildings. Recent evidence shows how intense city traffic can even modify and/or create local weather patterns as well.
Traffic and air pollution
With close to 2 million cars in residence and countless commuter cars and trucks passing through the City, New York has one of the highest levels of traffic-based pollution in the world, with an immediate effect on public health and especially the health of children, who suffer in NYC from one of the highest asthma levels in the country, most often in poor and working communities. In the Bronx, current efforts are underway to limit air pollution in the areas surrounding Hunts Point, where thousands of trucks bring food and other commercial goods into the city each day. Airports too, are major contributors to air pollution.
Additional air-borne toxins in NYC include heavy metals and other carcinogens that can originate from emissions in industrial sites (and other cities) in other parts of the country; they are brought in to the NYC area by naturally occurring weather systems. Conversely, NY city-borne pollutants can travel to the suburbs and even further, with detrimental effects on outlying rural areas. Acid rain continues to be a problem throughout the Northeast, despite strict regulations, and has been proven to cause significant declines in wild bird populations.
Despite recurring cold winters, NYC is already incurring the costs of global warming; as well as contributing significantly to climate change worldwide, while continuing to increase its volume of fossil fuel emissions. Scientists working at the NASA Goddard Space Institute at Columbia University have evidence that major flooding of the NYC metro area will occur in the coming century. Climate change due to global warming is already believed to affect the reproductive behavior of wild birds and amphibians. In addition, millions of plant and animal species are threatened worldwide.
Light and noise pollution
(Coming this fall…)