Rising Currents
February 17, 2010  |  Rising Currents
Rising Currents: Optimistic Innovation

Climate change and sea-level projections developed by the New York City Panel on Climate Change

The Rising Currents exhibition and studio work at P.S.1 demonstrated the challenges that New York City faces from climate change, as well as the opportunities we have to rethink how we interact with the built and natural environment. 

New York City already faces real and significant climate risks. We currently experience hot, humid summers and severe weather events, including heat waves, torrential downpours, snow and ice storms, and nor’easters. These weather events affect every New Yorker. As our climate changes, increasing our resilience to these events will become even more necessary.

PlaNYC, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s long-term plan to make New York a greener, more sustainable city, includes a number of initiatives to increase the city’s climate resilience. To ensure that the city’s efforts are based on state-of-the-science information, Mayor Bloomberg convened the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC), with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, to advise the city on climate change and develop New York City–specific climate change projections. The NPCC found that the city is likely to face warmer temperatures, more intense rainfall, more frequent droughts, rising sea levels, and more frequent and severe extreme weather events over the next century. 

The work of the five teams at P.S.1 illustrates that climate change will require us to alter the way we behave as individuals, build and operate infrastructure, design buildings, utilize land, manage natural resources, make investments, and plan for the future. Their work emphasizes innovative strategies that enhance our built environment while embracing the natural environment—even as it changes around us. 

In developing responses to climate change, we need to ensure that we think broadly about strategies to increase our climate resilience. Today, the city is using “green” infrastructure to protect local waterways from storm-water runoff and utilizing innovative designs for parks and open spaces that reduce runoff and provide enhanced recreational activities for users. 

Design for Printers Park, which upon completion will include a water-play area that filters waste water away and irrigates the surrounding gardens and plants. Courtesy New York City Department of Parks & Recreation


Staten Island Bluebelt, an ecologically sound and cost-effective storm-water management program. The program preserves natural drainage corridors, called bluebelts, including streams, ponds, and other wetland areas, which allows them to perform their functions of conveying, storing, and filtering storm water. Credit: New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

The Rising Currents exhibition provides us with a model of how the innovative use of both structural and non-structural elements can help us withstand the impacts of climate change while making the city more sustainable. It also emphasizes the need to involve a wide variety of disciplines, experts, and stakeholders in developing resilience strategies to ensure that all possibilities are explored. I left my tour of the P.S.1 studios not only impressed with the tremendous work of the teams, but with a great deal of optimism about our ability to meet the challenges before us.


I am a contributing writer for the ‘Jersey City Independent’ and would like to interview experts related to the work being done here that could provide me with some insights as to the rising sea level conditions and how they will effect Jersey City in the next 50 to 100 years?

Regards, Ron Callari

hi, thanks for your interest. You should be hearing soon from Meg Blackburn, MoMA’s press rep for the Rising Currents exhibition.

fascinating exhibit. wonderful to have it available in our laps for so many to ponder. thanks

hiiii theree whats upp I didn’t like it at all

I have some ninth grade students i’m bringing to MoMA. Do you think this exhibit will keep the interest of 14-15 year olds for any length of time? Do you find that young teenagers find the topic engaging? Thank you.


this is a very informational exibit. i really enjoyed it. who knew that the water was going to raise 2 feet in the next 5 years!!!!! imagine what it will do to the lake or ocean side properties and their value. if they are too close then they will sink. and imagine the long term effect. eventually if this pattern continues then the whole world will sink!!!!!!!!!!! what will we do. AAs i am currently sudying at NYU and taking the bioligy course i find this very fastinating and sorry about the spelling i have never been very good at that. what will happen to he worl inlets say… 300 year???????????????????????????????? what will we as humans come up with to solve this sitcuation?????????? what do we do?

The premise of this exhibit is depressing: rising sea levels caused by global climate change will impact major shoreline cities such as New York. The premise is also based on reliable scientific data.

This is a stunning exhibit. The images and ideas continue to run through my head (a non-biologist’s head, a non-architechist’s head). One question I had was when I read/saw that one design group proposed a protective space for (presumably) 19th/20th century invasive plant species. I laughed because I thought the group inserted a joke within their exhibit, because, my reasoning went, why in the world would we want to preserve something destructive? It would be like preseving some horribly deadly live bacteria for, what, posterity? I doubt the group’s idea is a joke, so I’m left wondering the rationale behind that idea.

I bought the book and was very tempted to return to see the exhibit the next day, but I had a train to catch. I’m hoping to see windmills and ocean wave energy projects and solar panels in the included designs in the book, because I didn’t see those elements in the exhibit (did I overlook those?).

Anytime an exhibit can provoke a multitude of questions and emotions, as this one did, it’s a success. Amazing work.

i like the sea shells,are they real?
i like the light up water proving projection.
how did you make it light up?

It is alright but do stuff amazing in here other than stuff people use everyday.

es ist eine tolle austellug:D

Leave a Comment

* required information

E-mail address*

Your comments*

Spam check*
Cri_137683 Please enter the text in the image.