Is Manhattan Sinking? The Science Says Yes

A new study has found that parts of Manhattan are sinking at an alarming rate. The science says yes – Manhattan is sinking!

Checkout this video:


For years, scientists have been warning that rising sea levels due to climate change could pose a significant threat to coastal areas around the world. And now, it appears that those warnings are coming true.

According to a new study, the island of Manhattan is slowly sinking into the Hudson River. The study, which was conducted by researchers at Columbia University, used data from GPS sensors to track the island’s elevation over time.

The results showed that Manhattan’s average elevation has decreased by about four millimeters over the past decade. That may not sound like much, but it’s enough to cause flooding in low-lying areas during storms and high tides.

The study also found that the rate of sinking is accelerating. If nothing is done to stop it, the researchers estimate that Manhattan could sink as much as 30 centimeters by the end of the century.

Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to this problem. The only way to stop Manhattan from sinking is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the rate of sea level rise. But given the current political climate, that seems unlikely to happen anytime soon.

So for now, we can only hope that Manhattan stays above water long enough for us to figure out a way to save it.

The Problem

The Problem
Manhattan is an island made mostly of bedrock that’s been worn down over time by the flow of the Hudson River. But since the late 19th century, the island has been steadily sinking.

A team of researchers led by Klaus H. Jacob of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory looked at data from tide gauges and found that Manhattan has been sinking at a rate of about 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) every 15 to 20 years since World War II. [The 10 Least Stable Places on Earth]

The team also found that the southern tip of Manhattan — where the World Trade Center once stood — is sinking faster than other parts of the island, at a rate of about 2 inches (5 cm) every 15 to 20 years.

The problem is only getting worse. A separate study published in June in the journal Science Advances found that sea level rise due to climate change could cause the Hudson River to swell and accelerate the sinking of Manhattan.

The Science

There is a lot of evidence to suggest that Manhattan is indeed sinking. A study published in 2016 found that the island has been slowly sinking for the past century, and it’s only going to get worse.

The study found that the island has sunk by about three inches since 1900, and it is predicted to sink by another two to four inches by 2100. The main reason for this is that the ground underneath Manhattan is made up of soft clay, which is slowly compacting under the weight of the buildings.

This process is exacerbated by the fact that Manhattan is constantly being built on, which means that there is less and less space for the ground to compact. As a result, the island is slowly sinking.

While this might not seem like a big deal, it could have serious consequences for the city. As sea levels continue to rise, lower-lying areas of Manhattan will be increasingly vulnerable to flooding. And, as the island sinks further into the ground, it will become more difficult and expensive to keep building on it.

So far, there are no easy solutions to this problem. stabilizing the ground underneath Manhattan would be a massive undertaking, and it’s not clear if it would even be possible. For now, all we can do is hope that sea levels don’t rise too fast and that our engineering solutions can keep up with the problem.

The Solutions

Different solutions have been proposed to prevent or slow down the sinking of Manhattan. One is to build a giant wall around the island to hold back the water. Another is to pump water out of the island constantly. A third solution is to build new land around Manhattan, either by bringing in dirt and rocks from elsewhere or by building up the island itself.

Which of these solutions is the best? That’s a difficult question to answer, as each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The wall would be very expensive to build and maintain, and it would not solve the underlying problem of too much water in the ground. Pumping water out of the ground would also be expensive, and it might not be possible to pump enough water to make a significant difference. Building new land around Manhattan might work, but it would be a huge undertaking and it is not clear where the new land would come from.

In the end, there is no easy solution to the problem of sinking ground in Manhattan. It will take a lot of time, effort, and money to find a way to stop or slow down the process. But if we don’t find a solution soon, parts of Manhattan could one day be underwater.


While the effects of climate change are not completely understood, and the threat to Manhattan is not immediate, the science is clear that the island is slowly sinking. With sea levels expected to rise in the coming years, the situation could become more dire. The best way to protect Manhattan from sinking is to take steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and slow the pace of climate change. In addition, coastal communities must prepare for the possibility of rising sea levels and more extreme weather events.

Scroll to Top