A Review of Recent Updates of Sea-Level Projections at Global and Regional Scales

Abstract

Sea-level change (SLC) is a much-studied topic in the area of climate research, integrating a range of climate science disciplines, and is expected to impact coastal communities around the world. As a result, this field is rapidly moving, and the knowledge and understanding of processes contributing to SLC is increasing. Here, we discuss noteworthy recent developments in the projection of SLC contributions and in the global mean and regional sea-level projections. For the Greenland Ice Sheet contribution to SLC, earlier estimates have been confirmed in recent research, but part of the source of this contribution has shifted from dynamics to surface melting. New insights into dynamic discharge processes and the onset of marine ice sheet instability increase the projected range for the Antarctic contribution by the end of the century. The contribution from both ice sheets is projected to increase further in the coming centuries to millennia. Recent updates of the global glacier outline database and new global glacier models have led to slightly lower projections for the glacier contribution to SLC (7–17 cm by 2100), but still project the glaciers to be an important contribution. For global mean sea-level projections, the focus has shifted to better estimating the uncertainty distributions of the projection time series, which may not necessarily follow a normal distribution. Instead, recent studies use skewed distributions with longer tails to higher uncertainties. Regional projections have been used to study regional uncertainty distributions, and regional projections are increasingly being applied to specific regions, countries, and coastal areas.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is a result of the ISSI Workshop on Integrative Study of Sea Level, held in Bern, Switzerland, 2–6 February 2015. A.S. was supported by a CSIRO Australia Office of the Chief Executive Fellowship and the NWO-Netherlands Polar Programme. P.L. was funded by the European Research Council under the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013)/ERC Grant Agreement No. 320816. Y.W. was supported by a Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Overseas Research Fellowship (Grant No. JSPS-2014-878). F.A. was supported by an AXA postdoctoral fellowship.

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Slangen, A.B.A., Adloff, F., Jevrejeva, S. et al. A Review of Recent Updates of Sea-Level Projections at Global and Regional Scales. Surv Geophys 38, 385–406 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10712-016-9374-2

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Keywords

  • Sea-level change
  • Regional sea-level change
  • Sea-level projections
  • Ice sheets
  • Glaciers
  • Terrestrial water storage
  • Mediterranean