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Climate Change and the Bronx River


Since 1900 our global temperatures have risen by 1.9°F. Research states that once we see a global temperature rise of 2.3°F we will begin to see a steady increase in negative environmental impacts. Some of the most alarming being that 70% of our coral reefs will die and 6 million people will be directly affected by sea-level rise due to flooding, ice caps melting and more frequent extreme weather events. 

Here at the Bronx River Alliance, we are seeing effects of climate change all around us. Climate change has impaired the accessibility of the Bronx River, which has negatively impacted our ability to safely host community and recreational events, including paddles, stewardship, and community celebrations. Over the past year, the Alliance has had to cancel various events due to flooding, droughts, extreme heat, and poor water quality due to heavy rains.

Over the past few months, New York City has been experiencing severe to moderate drought levels. In July we only had 8 days of rain, when historically this is normally the wettest month for the city. This has contributed to water levels in the upper corridor of the Bronx River being incredibly low which makes it more susceptible to higher levels of pollution. The Alliance has also seen lower levels of dissolved oxygen levels due to warmer temperatures, extreme weather events and pollution. At the end of August, we were reminded of how grim the effects of climate change and pollution can be when a mass fish kill occured in the Bronx River. 

Temperatures have also been rising each year in New York City. This past July had 10 days where temperatures were above 90°F, making it the 10th hottest July in over 150 years. These extreme temperatures can be due to the urban heat island effect. Urban heat islands occur when cities remove natural land cover, e.g. trees, and replace them with pavement and buildings which absorb and retain heat. This can lead to higher levels of heat related illnesses and mortality as well as an increase in energy costs for the affected population. Research suggests that we can reduce the effects of urban heat island by implementing green infrastructure practices, planting trees and building green roofs. 

The Alliance is dedicated to the protection, improvement, and restoration of the Bronx River. We urge you to take action not just to protect the Bronx River, but to help protect our planet for future generations. 

How can you help?

  • Join one of our advisory teams! Alliance employees and community members help drive positive change— The Ecology Team works on restoring the ecology of the river, the Greenway Team discusses greenspaces along the river, or the Foodway Team a garden you can forage in Concrete Plant Park.
  • Donate to the Bronx River Alliance so that we can continue our work to protect the Bronx River
  • Write to your elected officials about why protecting your community from the effects of Climate Change is important to you!

About the Bronx River Alliance

The Bronx River Alliance is a coordinated voice for the river that works in partnership to protect, improve and restore the Bronx River corridor so that it can be a healthy ecological, recreational, resource for the communities through which it flows.

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