New York City: An Archipelago at Risk is an ongoing personal project that started with a Reuters assignment.

With its iconic skyline and densely populated streets, it is easy to overlook the fact that New York City's 19 million residents exist on an archipelago with 520 miles of coastline. But four of New York City's five boroughs are islands, and recent projections estimate sea level could rise up to 9 feet by 2100, if worst case scenarios of rising temperatures and global emissions continue.

The most at risk communities in the city, however, are aware of their proximity to the ocean. In Broad Channel, an island located in Jamaica Bay with 2,500 residents, generations of families have dealt with flooding during high tide as part of normal life. Its location combined with slightly lower elevation, make it one of the most susceptible places to flooding in New York.

Vulnerable to a range of flooding hazards, Broad Channel's residents form a close-knit community where neighbors know each other by first name.

To adapt to the regular flooding that occurs during high tides, many home owners have physically raised their houses a full floor above street level.

As annual storms have become more intense, and flooding more frequent, a growing number of people can no longer afford disaster insurance. Every year damage caused by storms and flooding leaves more lots empty.

Presently, the impact of rising sea levels are most obvious in areas such as Broad Channel. But the growing number of physical barriers being installed across the city to mitigate flooding indicate anticipation for more widespread impact in the near future. From East Harlem to the Lower East Side, New York City is investing billions of dollars in development projects related to climate resilience.

Using Format