, Volume 63, Issue 2, pp 1223-1224
Date: 25 Apr 2012

Evaluating alternative future sea-level rise scenarios

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We agree with Burton that sea levels are rising. However, we have different opinions about the rate of sea-level rise (SLR) most appropriate for evaluation of future scenarios. Burton argues that the best prediction for sea level in the future is “simply a linear projection of the history of sea level”; this is one interpretation, and it assumes that the future will be like the recent past. A linear projection represents a possible minimum expected rate of SLR and is used to define a lower bound on SLR when assessing the effects of SLR on civil works projects in the United States (USACE 2011). Overall, the evidence suggests that sea levels are rising and will rise more quickly and that it is responsible scientifically and in public policy to evaluate more widely accepted alternative future scenarios.

Burton argues that because the data he references show no acceleration in SLR, increasing CO2 cannot in the future cause an acceleration in SLR. However, if concentrations of greenhouse gas

A comment to this article is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11069-012-0268-4.