Evolution of Global Sea-level Rise Projections for the 21st Century and their Incorporation in Local and Regional Assessments

TitleEvolution of Global Sea-level Rise Projections for the 21st Century and their Incorporation in Local and Regional Assessments
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsGarner AJ, Weiss JL, Parris A, Kopp RE, Horton RM, Overpeck JT, Tan F, Tan CWJ, Sosa SE, Horton BP
Conference NameAmerican Geophysical Union Fall Meeting
Date Published12/2020
Abstract

The potential effect of global warming on sea level and the possible impacts of sea-level rise on ecosystems, infrastructure, and society began to be realized nearly four decades ago, leading to the first global sea-level rise projections in the early 1980s. Subsequent projections have helped to improve understanding of the processes driving sea-level rise and develop new methods of projecting future sea-level rise. Despite these advances, future sea-level rise remains deeply uncertain at both global and regional scales. To facilitate understanding of the historical development of global sea-level rise projections and provide context for interpreting the current state of the art, we present an update to our database of 21st century global sea-level rise projections (Garner et al., 2018). Our results show that the range of projected global sea-level rise has varied greatly over time. Upper projections of sea-level rise from individual studies are generally higher than upper projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, potentially due to differing percentile bounds, or a pre-disposition of consensus-based approaches toward relatively conservative outcomes. 

We also present a new database of sea-level rise assessment documents that are used at the local scale from two distinct regions: North America and Asia. Results of this work aim to help inform both the scientific and decision-making communities, by analyzing differences in the scientific approaches used to develop local sea-level rise assessments across regions, and highlighting how scientific knowledge can and should guide policy-making and communication between academic and decision-making sectors.