Professor William Solecki (Geography; Director, CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities) co-organized a panel discussion on the immediate impact and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, and in particular questions of how we can reduce our vulnerability to future storms as well as enhance our adaptation to climate change. The discussion of rebuilding makes clear that there are issues of scientific uncertainty, engineering, planning and policy, economics, and equity to be resolved. In order to help address these questions the panel and the discussion focused on:

1.     What did Hurricane Sandy tell us about extreme storm events and future climate in our region?  What is still not known?

2.     What did Hurricane Sandy tell us about our vulnerabilities to future extreme events?

3.     What are the key opportunities and challenges of potential adaptation strategies?


Event Program

2:15 Introduction
William Solecki, Hunter College – CUNY;
Cynthia Rosenzweig, NASA – GISS, Columbia University
Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

2:30 Hurricane Sandy and Challenges to the New York Metropolitan Region

Cynthia Rosenzweig, NASA – GISS, Columbia University

William Solecki, Hunter College – CUNY


2:50 Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation

Large Scale Adaptation and Lessons from the Netherlands – Jeroen Aerts, VU University Amsterdam

Engineering Approach –  Klaus Jacob, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University

Role of Ecosystems and Green Infrastructure – Franco Montalto, Drexel University

Planning and Policy – Rae Zimmerman, New York University


3:50 Connection to the U.S. National Climate Assessment

Prof. Gary Yohe, Wesleyan College (via skype)


4:00  Discussion

5:00  Reception




    The Urban Climate Change Research Network (UCCRN) is a consortium of experts from academic and research institutions around the world, built to facilitate and build the connections between science and policy regarding effective climate change mitigation and adaptation policies.

  • CISC

    The CUNY Institute for Sustainable Cities (CISC) works to realize cities as part of the solution to global sustainability challenges. By merging the science of sustainability with innovative public programming, we examine opportunities available to cities—and their residents—for proactive responses to on-going environmental change. We harness the potential of formal and informal means to inspire a new generation of environmental thinkers. In doing so, we seek to understand and influence the evolution of the urban environment, while connecting the CUNY community, decision makers and the general public to these critical issues.

  • Bill Solecki and Cynthia Rosenzweig Co-Author NY Times Op-Ed Piece on Rising Sea Levels

    “Since 2001, when “Climate Change and a Global City” was published, climate scientists have been highlighting the vulnerability of the New York metropolitan region to coastal flooding in light of rising seas. Over the past 100 years, data from the tide gauge at the Battery in Lower Manhattan reveal that the region has already experienced close to a foot (9 to 10 inches) of sea level rise.

    “Climate Change Adaptation in New York City: Building a Risk Management Response,” a 2010 report, projected that the sea level would rise two to five feet by the 2080s. The higher projection includes the continuing effects of the rapid ice melt now occurring in polar regions. These projections imply that more frequent and more extensive coastal flooding is in store for the New York area, whatever the strength of any oncoming storms.

    Now that New York has experienced devastating coastal flooding, how can we recover and rebuild in a way that will enable infrastructural resilience to inevitable future storms, while minimizing a loss of life and livelihoods? Both “hard” engineering interventions – like sea walls and innovative subway and tunnel closings – and “soft” approaches – like reconstructed wetlands and smart designs for coastal communities – are needed.”

Hurricane Sandy and Beyond: Engineering, Ecology, and Policy Pathways in an Era of Climate Change | Posted on November 28th, 2012 | Faculty Public Programs, Public Programs