Coastal sea level changes, observed and projected during the 20th and 21st century

Abstract

Timeseries of observed and projected sea level changes for the 20th and 21st century are analyzed at various coastal locations around the world that are vulnerable to climate change. Observed time series are from tide gauges and altimetry, as well as from reconstructions over the last 50 years. CMIP5 coupled atmosphere-ocean model output of regional sea-level and associated uncertainty estimates are merged with scenario-independent contributions from GIA and dynamic ice to provide time series of coastal sea-level projections to the end of the 21st century. We focus on better quantifying the regional departure of coastal sea level rise from its global average, identify the reasons for the regional departure, and quantify the reasons for the uncertainty in these regional projections. Many of these coastal sea level projections are lower than the global mean change in sea level due to glacial isostatic adjustment, and gravitational changes from loss of land ice and terrestrially stored ground water. In most coastal regions, local deviations from the global mean vary up to ±20 cm which, depending on the location, differ substantially in their underlying causes.

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Acknowledgments

This work was funded in part through CliSAP Excellence Cluster of the University of Hamburg, funded through the DFG, the BMBF (Federal Ministry of Education and Science) Project RACE, and a Max Planck Society(MPG) Fellowship to D. Stammer. ABA Slangen was funded by NWO and KvK. The data are available from icdc.zmaw.de under Coastal Sea Level.

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Correspondence to M. Carson.

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Carson, M., Köhl, A., Stammer, D. et al. Coastal sea level changes, observed and projected during the 20th and 21st century. Climatic Change 134, 269–281 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1520-1

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Keywords

  • Tide Gauge
  • Glacial Isostatic Adjustment
  • Integral Time Scale
  • Tide Gauge Data
  • Vertical Land Motion