Building the Knowledge Base for Climate Resiliency: New York City Panel on Climate Change 2015 Report

This report presents the work of the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) from January 2013 to January 2015. The report (also “NPCC 2015”) documents current climate trends and climate projections for the New York metropolitan region up to 2100. It provides the City of New York with climate projections to the end of the century, both static and dynamic coastal storm surge modeling, and next steps in the development of a monitoring system for climate change impacts and adaptation. While specific to the New York City region, the approaches developed by the NPCC can contribute to efforts to enhance resiliency as they are undertaken in other locations.

Learn about NYC's approach for creating a risk management framework and recommendations on how to advance climate indicators. 

The assessment process involved is innovative because it looks beyond critical infrastructure and its vulnerability to climate change (a highlight of the first NPCC), and more directly focuses on what a more dynamic climate will mean for the everyday experience of the city's residents - for example, regarding health impacts. With this report, the NPCC provides critical climate and impact projections needed to inform decision-makers so as to make New Yorkers safer and to enhance the city's long-term resiliency.

The assessment compares the NPCC2 methods and projections for the local scale to those done at the global scale by the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2013). The report presents new maps that show increasing flood risks due to climate change defined for the 100- and 500-year coastal flood event in the 2020s, 2050s, 2080s and 2100. It compares future coastal flooding simulated by static and dynamic modeling that include the effects of sea level rise.


Within its chapter on public health impacts, the report offers research and resiliency recommendations tailored for frontline communities, which address the following:

  • Enhancing community engagement
  • Enhancing availability of air conditioning for people who are most vulnerable to heat
  • Developing and applying a heat-health vulnerability index, mapped to the block level
  • Designing urban-scale cooling strategies

The authors prioritize specific climate-health indicators for New York City, including the percentages of those above 5 years with a disability, those below the federal poverty line, and those without air conditioning. There is also a list of potential social vulnerability indicators in the chapter on "Indicators and Monitoring." The measurement of social vulnerability can help identify neighborhoods in need of intervention when combined with climate risk information.  

The report's authors project sea levels around New York City will rise 11 to 21 inches by the middle of the century, 18 to 39 inches by the 2080s, and up to 6 feet by 2100. About 400,000 New Yorkers live within the current 100-year flood plain, which is more than any other U.S. city, including New Orleans.The report also develops a process for establishing an "indicators and monitoring system" to track data related to climate hazards, risks, impacts, and adaptation strategies. It also presents metrics for evaluating the NYC Cool Roofs Program and its effect on the urban heat island in Chapter 6.

This resource was featured in the March 6, 2015, ASAP Newsletter.

"Even before Superstorm Sandy, this group was looking at the potential impacts of climate change on the City. The latest in a series of post-Sandy efforts to look at climate risk and build resilience that include this report by the Urban Land Institute, this report by engineering groups in NYC, updates to the State Hazard Mitigation Plan, and a new focus in PlanNYC, among other efforts. Sure, it isn’t all about NYC when it comes to building resilience across the country and their strategies won’t work everywhere, but it is definitely worth keeping tabs on what’s going on in the Big Apple."

NPCC 2015 provides further research needs and recommendations for climate resiliency for the city. The report includes two appendices that provide climate risk and projections infographics for stakeholders and technical details for each of the chapters.

Initially formed as a scientific panel in 2008, the first New York City Panel on Climate Change established a risk-management framework for the city's critical infrastructure throughout the extended metropolitan region under climate change (NPCC, 2010). Following Hurricane Sandy, the City convened the Second New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC2) in January 2013 to provide up-to-date scientific information and analyses on climate risks for the creation of "A Stronger, More Resilient New York."

Publication Date: February 16, 2015

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  • Policy analysis/recommendations

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