Surveys in Geophysics

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 295–307

The Twentieth-Century Sea Level Budget: Recent Progress and Challenges


DOI: 10.1007/s10712-016-9405-z

Cite this article as:
Jevrejeva, S., Matthews, A. & Slangen, A. Surv Geophys (2017) 38: 295. doi:10.1007/s10712-016-9405-z


For coastal areas, given the large and growing concentration of population and economic activity, as well as the importance of coastal ecosystems, sea level rise is one of the most damaging aspects of the warming climate. Huge progress in quantifying the cause of sea level rise and closure of sea level budget for the period since the 1990s has been made mainly due to the development of the global observing system for sea level components and total sea levels. We suggest that a large spread (1.2 ± 0.2–1.9 ± 0.3 mm year−1) in estimates of sea level rise during the twentieth century from several reconstructions demonstrates the need for and importance of the rescue of historical observations from tide gauges, with a focus on the beginning of the twentieth century. Understanding the physical mechanisms contributing to sea level rise and controlling the variability of sea level over the past few 100 years are a challenging task. In this study, we provide an overview of the progress in understanding the cause of sea level rise during the twentieth century and highlight the main challenges facing the interdisciplinary sea level community in understanding the complex nature of sea level changes.


Sea level rise Sea level budget Observing system Data archeology 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Oceanography CentreLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU)Utrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands

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