Sunday, May 9, 2010

In series of flyovers, a scientific snapshot of New York City

Mireya Navarro in the New York Times: While most residents were sleeping, a twin-engine Shrike Commander flew serial missions over the city recently, cruising low like Superman and back and forth like a lawn mower. Equipped with a laser system, the plane collected highly precise images of the city, its rooftops, trees, wetlands and much of what lies in between.

The early morning flyovers are expected to yield the most detailed three-dimensional picture of New York City to date, with an emphasis on structures, elevations, sun and shade, and nooks and crannies relevant to the city’s emergency response system and its environmental goals.

The data will be used, among other things, to create up-to-date maps of the areas most prone to flooding, the buildings best suited for the installation of solar power and the neighborhoods most in need of trees. An advisory panel of experts formed by the mayor has warned that the city must prepare for more rain and an increased risk of coastal flooding in the coming decades as a result of global climate change.

Rohit T. Aggarwala, the director of the city’s Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability, said the effort would result in a picture of New York’s physical space “in far more detail than what we had before.” The effort, which will cost about $450,000, is part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s broader environmental agenda, known as PlaNYC….

An aerial view of Manhattan in 1919

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