Climatic Change

, Volume 87, Supplement 1, pp 57–73 | Cite as

Climate change projections of sea level extremes along the California coast

  • Daniel R. Cayan
  • Peter D. Bromirski
  • Katharine Hayhoe
  • Mary Tyree
  • Michael D. Dettinger
  • Reinhard E. Flick
Article

Abstract

California’s coastal observations and global model projections indicate that California’s open coast and estuaries will experience rising sea levels over the next century. During the last several decades, the upward historical trends, quantified from a small set of California tide gages, have been approximately 20 cm/century, quite similar to that estimated for global mean sea level. In the next several decades, warming produced by climate model simulations indicates that sea level rise (SLR) could substantially exceed the rate experienced during modern human development along the California coast and estuaries. A range of future SLR is estimated from a set of climate simulations governed by lower (B1), middle–upper (A2), and higher (A1fi) GHG emission scenarios. Projecting SLR from the ocean warming in GCMs, observational evidence of SLR, and separate calculations using a simple climate model yields a range of potential sea level increases, from 11 to 72 cm, by the 2070–2099 period. The combination of predicted astronomical tides with projected weather forcing, El Niño related variability, and secular SLR, gives a series of hourly sea level projections for 2005–2100. Gradual sea level rise progressively worsens the impacts of high tides, surge and waves resulting from storms, and also freshwater floods from Sierra and coastal mountain catchments. The occurrence of extreme sea levels is pronounced when these factors coincide. The frequency and magnitude of extreme events, relative to current levels, follows a sharply escalating pattern as the magnitude of future sea level rise increases.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Alley RB, Clark PU, Huybrechts P, Joughin I (2005) Ice-sheet and sea-level changes. Science 310:456–460CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bromirski PD, Flick RE, Cayan DR (2003) Decadal storminess variability along the California coast: 1858–2000. J Clim 16:982–993CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bromirski PD, Cayan DR, Flick RE (2005) Wave spectral energy variability in the northeast Pacific. J Geophys Res 110:C03005, DOI 10.1029/2004JC002398
  4. Cabanes C, Cazenave A, Le Provost C (2001) Sea level rise during the past 40 years determined from satellite and in situ observations. Science 294:840–842CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cazenave A, Nerem RS (2004) Present-day sea level change: observations and causes. Rev Geophys 42: RG3001, DOI 10.1029/2003RG000139
  6. Chelton DB, Davis RE (1982) Monthly mean seal-level variability along the west coast of North America. J Phys Oceanogr 12:757–784CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Church JA, White NJ (2006) twentieth century acceleration in sea level rise. Geophys Res Lett 33: (LO1602) DOI 10.1029/2005GL024826
  8. Church JA, Gregory JM, Huybrechts P, Kuhn M, Lambeck K, Nhuan MT, Qin D, Woodworth PL (2001) Changes in sea level. Chapter 11 of the intergovernmental panel on climate change third assessment report. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp pp 639–694Google Scholar
  9. Delworth T et al (2006) GFDL’s CM2 global coupled climate models – Part 1: formulation and simulation characteristics. J Clim 19(5):643–674CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fairbanks RG (1989) A 17,000-year glacio-eustatic sea level record: influence of glacial melting rates on the Younger Dryas event and deep-ocean circulation. Nature 342(6250):637–642CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Flick RE (1998) Comparison of California tides, storm surges, and mean sea level during the El Niño winters of 1982–1983 and 1997–1998. Shore & Beach 66(3):7–11Google Scholar
  12. Flick RE (2000) Time-of-day of peak tides in a mixed-tide regime. Shore & Beach 68(4):15–17Google Scholar
  13. Flick RE, Murray JF, Ewing LC (2003) Trends in United States tidal datum statistics and tide range. J. Waterway, Port, Coastal and Ocean Eng., Amer Soc Civil Eng 129(4):155–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gregory JM, Church JA, Boer GJ, Dixon KW, Flato GM, Jackett DR, Lowe JA, O, Farrell SP, Roeckner E, Russell GL, Stouffer RJ, Winton M (2001) Comparison of results from several AOGCMs for global and regional sea-level change 1900–2100. Clim Dyn 18:225–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Hansen J (2005) Earth’s energy imbalance: confirmation and implications. Science 308(5727):1431–1435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Holgate SJ, Woodworth PL (2004) Evidence for enhanced coastal sea level rise during the 1990’s. Geophys Res Let 31: L07305, DOI 10.1029/2004GL019626
  17. Hulme M, Raper SCB, Wigley TML (1995) An integrated framework to address climate change (ESCAPE) and further developments of the global and regional climate modules (MAGICC). Energy Policy 23:347–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Kalnay E, Kanamitsu M, Kistler R, Collins W, Deaven D, Gandin L, Iredell M, Saha S, White G, Woollen J, Zhu Y, Leetmaa A, Reynolds B, Chelliah M, Ebisuzaki W, Higgins W, Janowiak J, Mo KC, Ropelewski C, Wang J, Jenne R, Joseph D (1996) The NCEP/NCAR 40-year reanalysis project. Bull Amer Meteor Soc 77:437–471CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Meehl GA et al (2005) How much more global warming and sea level rise? Science 307(5716):1769–1772CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Mitrovica JX, Tamisiea ME, Davis JL, Milne GA (2001) Recent mass balance of polar ice sheets inferred from patterns of global sea level change. Nature 409:1026–1029CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Mitrovica JX, Wahr J, Matsuyama I, Paulson A, Tamisiea ME (2006) Reanalysis of ancient eclipse, astronomic and geodetic data: a possible route to resolving the enigma of global sea-level rise. Earth and Planetary Sci Lett 243:390–399CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Munk WH (2002) Twentieth century sea level: an enigma. Proc Nat Acad Sci 99(10):6550–6555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Munk WH, Cartwright DE (1966) Tidal spectroscopy and prediction. Phil Trans Roy Soc London 259:533–581CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Ryan H, Gibbons H, Hendley JW, Stauffer P (2000) El Niño sea-level rise wreaks havoc in California’s San Francisco Bay Region. USGS Fact Sheet 175–99. Available online at: http://geopubs.wr.usgs.gov/fact-sheet/fs175–99/
  25. Seymour RJ (1998) Effects of El Niños on the west coast wave climate. Shore and Beach 66(3):3–6Google Scholar
  26. Seymour RJ, Strange RR, Cayan DR, Nathan RA (1984) Influence of El Niños on California’s wave climate: in Proceedings of the 19th Coastal Engineering Conference: American Society of Civil Engineers. v. 1, p. 577–592Google Scholar
  27. Storlazzi CD, Griggs GB (1998) The 1997–98 El Niño and erosion processes along the central coast of California. Shore and Beach 66(3):12–17Google Scholar
  28. Trenberth K, Hurrell J (1994) Decadal atmosphere–ocean variations in the Pacific. Climate Dynamics 9:303–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Wallace JM, Gutzler DS (1981) Teleconnections in the geopotential height field during the Northern-Hemisphere winter. Mon Wea Rev 109:784–812CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Washington WM, Weatherly JW, Meehl GA, Semtner AJ, Bettge TW, Craig AP, Strand WG, Arblaster J, Wayland VB, James R, Zhang Y (2000) Parallel Climate Model (PCM) control and transient simulations’. Clim Dyn 16(10/11):755–774CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. White NJ, Church JA, Gregory JM (2005) Coastal and global averaged sea level rise for 1950 to 2000. Geophys Res Let 32: L01601, DOI 10.1029/2004GL021391
  32. Wigley TML (2005) The climate change commitment. Science 307:1766–1769CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Zetler DB, Flick RE (1985) Predicted extreme high tides for mixed tidal regimes. J Phys Oceanogr 15(3):357–359CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R. Cayan
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter D. Bromirski
    • 1
  • Katharine Hayhoe
    • 3
  • Mary Tyree
    • 1
  • Michael D. Dettinger
    • 2
    • 1
  • Reinhard E. Flick
    • 4
    • 1
  1. 1.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of CaliforniaLa JollaUSA
  2. 2.Water Resources DivisionU. S. Geological SurveyLa JollaUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesTexas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  4. 4.California Department of Boating and WaterwaysLa JollaUSA

Personalised recommendations