The yellow skies of New York

In June 2023 massive wildfires in Canada caused air pollution in New York to a scale not known to New Yorkers. Besides the serious health issues the smoke-filled air causes, it also tinted the whole city in a curious sepia like color. The remarkable images, the New Yorker chose to accompany this article, show that the editors clearly recognized the aesthetic qualities. For a day or more all contemporary images of New York appeared like paintings from the romantic period of the 19. Century. All photographs are by Clark Hodgin for The New Yorker.

Flood Memorabilia

In Germany as well as in many other countries, images of extreme floods often found their way on postcards. Here is a selection of postcards. (click on the image to find the online source)








undated postcard from Tokyo, Japan

undated postcard from Panama, probably 1924

Street Scene on the Rhine

A street in the city of Bonn with the Rhine river in the background, January 2024.

Nürnberg flooded, 1909

The Bavarian city of Nürnberg (Nuremberg) has been flooded quite often over it’s history. The flood of 1909 is particularly memorable and the most severe flood that has been documented in photography. The visual similarity to Venice, apparent in pictures like these, has been noted quite often by contemporaries.

‘Extremes will become normal’

Quote by Lam Chiu-ying, former director of the Hong Kong Observatory, the central weather forecast agency of the government of Hong Kong, from an article in the Hong Kong Free Press about the Black Rainstorm and massive deluge of the week of September 4. 2023.

Here is a selection of photo images and video stills from international media coverage from September 9. 2023.

Torres de Ofir

In the north of Portugal, sea lvel rise causes masssive land loss along the Atlantic coast. The building that has become the most emblematic for the situation along Portugal’s coast are the Torres de Ofir, three towers set between the Cavado river and the ocean front in Esposende, about an hour north of Porto. The Portuguese hydrobiologist and researcher at the Abel Salazar Institute Adriano Bordalo e Sá made the following statement which has become much quoted by the press: ” “Se vivêssemos num país a sério, as torres de Ofir há muito teriam sido demolidas / If we were a serious country, the towers would have been demolished long ago.”

Depending on how the photo is taken, the three towers appear more or less vulnerable to the ocean. Some photo journalists have even opted for a tilted perspective, making the scene appear a bit more dramatic. Here is a selection of recent and historic photos. Clearly the Torres de Ofir are an infamous and much publicized example of the kind of problematic coastal architecture in times of rising sea level.

Ho Chi Minh City

This impressive photo of the Vietnamese metropolis in the Mekong Delta was taken by Lizzie Yarina, a researcher from the MIT Urban Crisis Lab and it accompanies her insightful article “You’re sea wall won’t save you”.

FloodZone – an ongoing visual research of life in the tidal zone

FloodZone is an ongoing photographic series by Anastasia Samoylova, responding to the environmental changes in coastal cities of South Florida. The project began in Miami in 2016, when Samoylova moved to the area and experience living in a tropical environment for the first time.
The works display in an impressive way the ambivalences and the fluid frontiers between city and sea in a community exposed to frequent floodings. I am particularly impressed how artist Samoylova expands the topic and visual themes onto popular imagery and the everyday in the urban scenery.

All images are from the artist’s website.

Thanks to Ulrike Heine for the lead!

Flooding in Guanxi, China

Flooding in Guangxi. Images provided by Damien Manspeaker (@too_much_yogurt/Instagram)

Marine life in the city streets

As extrem weather events in coastal areas intensify and multiply, marine life comes closer to the city. Among the social media posts during hurricane Ian in September/October 2022 posts about marine mammals like sharks or orca whales in the streets were very popular. This seems to be a new theme in flooding stories. And it might be a foreshadowing of an altered relationship between city and ocean due to climate change. City people might have to get used to living in much closer contact with marine population and thus rethink their relationship on ethical and political levels.

This is an image of a shark in a street in Fort Myers (FL).
For a plausibility check of this tweet see:

Also Miami Beach (FL) had it’s cohabitation moment go viral online one year before. In 2019 a resident posted pictures of an octopus swimming through a parking garage.

The Miami Herald quotes University of Miami associate biology professor Kathleen Sullivan Sealey: “She said Miami Beach residents ought to get used to seeing strange new creatures making sporadic appearances as rising sea levels push ocean waters deeper and more frequently onto land, along with some of the creatures that live in them.”