Extreme sea level implications of 1.5 °c, 2.0 °c, and 2.5 °c temperature stabilization targets in the 21st and 22nd centuries

D. J. Rasmussen, Klaus Bittermann, Maya K. Buchanan, Scott Kulp, Benjamin H. Strauss, Robert Evans Kopp III, Michael Oppenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Sea-level rise (SLR) is magnifying the frequency and severity of extreme sea levels (ESLs) that can cause coastal flooding. The rate and amount of global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise is a function of the trajectory of global mean surface temperature (GMST). Therefore, temperature stabilization targets (e.g. 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C of warming above pre-industrial levels, as from the Paris Agreement) have important implications for coastal flood risk. Here, we assess, in a global network of tide gauges, the differences in the expected frequencies of ESLs between scenarios that stabilize GMST warming at 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. We employ probabilistic, localized SLR projections and long-term hourly tide gauge records to estimate the expected frequencies of historical and future ESLs for the 21st and 22nd centuries. By 2100, under 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C GMST stabilization, the median GMSL is projected to rise 48 cm (90% probability of 28-82 cm), 56 cm (28-96 cm), and 58 cm (37-93 cm), respectively. As an independent comparison, a semi-empirical sea level model calibrated to temperature and GMSL over the past two millennia estimates median GMSL rise within 7-8 cm of these projections. By 2150, relative to the 2.0 °C scenario and based on median sea level projections, GMST stabilization of 1.5 °C spares the inundation of lands currently home to about 5 million people, including 60 000 individuals currently residing in Small Island Developing States. We quantify projected changes to the expected frequency of historical 10-, 100-, and 500-year ESL events using frequency amplification factors that incorporate uncertainty in both local SLR and historical return periods of ESLs. By 2150, relative to a 2.0 °C scenario, the reduction in the frequency amplification of the historical 100 year ESL event arising from a 1.5 °C GMST stabilization is greatest in the eastern United States, with ESL event frequency amplification being reduced by about half at most tide gauges. In general, smaller reductions are projected for Small Island Developing States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number034040
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Volume13
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

Fingerprint

Sea level
Oceans and Seas
stabilization
Stabilization
sea level
Temperature
temperature
surface temperature
tide gauge
Tide gages
amplification
Amplification
warming
Islands
return period
flooding
trajectory
Paris
sea level rise
Uncertainty

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

Keywords

  • IPCC
  • climate change impacts
  • coastal flooding
  • extreme sea levels
  • paris agreement
  • sea level rise

Cite this

Rasmussen, D. J. ; Bittermann, Klaus ; Buchanan, Maya K. ; Kulp, Scott ; Strauss, Benjamin H. ; Kopp III, Robert Evans ; Oppenheimer, Michael. / Extreme sea level implications of 1.5 °c, 2.0 °c, and 2.5 °c temperature stabilization targets in the 21st and 22nd centuries. In: Environmental Research Letters. 2018 ; Vol. 13, No. 3.
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Extreme sea level implications of 1.5 °c, 2.0 °c, and 2.5 °c temperature stabilization targets in the 21st and 22nd centuries. / Rasmussen, D. J.; Bittermann, Klaus; Buchanan, Maya K.; Kulp, Scott; Strauss, Benjamin H.; Kopp III, Robert Evans; Oppenheimer, Michael.

In: Environmental Research Letters, Vol. 13, No. 3, 034040, 01.03.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Extreme sea level implications of 1.5 °c, 2.0 °c, and 2.5 °c temperature stabilization targets in the 21st and 22nd centuries

AU - Rasmussen, D. J.

AU - Bittermann, Klaus

AU - Buchanan, Maya K.

AU - Kulp, Scott

AU - Strauss, Benjamin H.

AU - Kopp III, Robert Evans

AU - Oppenheimer, Michael

PY - 2018/3/1

Y1 - 2018/3/1

N2 - Sea-level rise (SLR) is magnifying the frequency and severity of extreme sea levels (ESLs) that can cause coastal flooding. The rate and amount of global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise is a function of the trajectory of global mean surface temperature (GMST). Therefore, temperature stabilization targets (e.g. 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C of warming above pre-industrial levels, as from the Paris Agreement) have important implications for coastal flood risk. Here, we assess, in a global network of tide gauges, the differences in the expected frequencies of ESLs between scenarios that stabilize GMST warming at 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. We employ probabilistic, localized SLR projections and long-term hourly tide gauge records to estimate the expected frequencies of historical and future ESLs for the 21st and 22nd centuries. By 2100, under 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C GMST stabilization, the median GMSL is projected to rise 48 cm (90% probability of 28-82 cm), 56 cm (28-96 cm), and 58 cm (37-93 cm), respectively. As an independent comparison, a semi-empirical sea level model calibrated to temperature and GMSL over the past two millennia estimates median GMSL rise within 7-8 cm of these projections. By 2150, relative to the 2.0 °C scenario and based on median sea level projections, GMST stabilization of 1.5 °C spares the inundation of lands currently home to about 5 million people, including 60 000 individuals currently residing in Small Island Developing States. We quantify projected changes to the expected frequency of historical 10-, 100-, and 500-year ESL events using frequency amplification factors that incorporate uncertainty in both local SLR and historical return periods of ESLs. By 2150, relative to a 2.0 °C scenario, the reduction in the frequency amplification of the historical 100 year ESL event arising from a 1.5 °C GMST stabilization is greatest in the eastern United States, with ESL event frequency amplification being reduced by about half at most tide gauges. In general, smaller reductions are projected for Small Island Developing States.

AB - Sea-level rise (SLR) is magnifying the frequency and severity of extreme sea levels (ESLs) that can cause coastal flooding. The rate and amount of global mean sea-level (GMSL) rise is a function of the trajectory of global mean surface temperature (GMST). Therefore, temperature stabilization targets (e.g. 1.5 °C and 2.0 °C of warming above pre-industrial levels, as from the Paris Agreement) have important implications for coastal flood risk. Here, we assess, in a global network of tide gauges, the differences in the expected frequencies of ESLs between scenarios that stabilize GMST warming at 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C above pre-industrial levels. We employ probabilistic, localized SLR projections and long-term hourly tide gauge records to estimate the expected frequencies of historical and future ESLs for the 21st and 22nd centuries. By 2100, under 1.5 °C, 2.0 °C, and 2.5 °C GMST stabilization, the median GMSL is projected to rise 48 cm (90% probability of 28-82 cm), 56 cm (28-96 cm), and 58 cm (37-93 cm), respectively. As an independent comparison, a semi-empirical sea level model calibrated to temperature and GMSL over the past two millennia estimates median GMSL rise within 7-8 cm of these projections. By 2150, relative to the 2.0 °C scenario and based on median sea level projections, GMST stabilization of 1.5 °C spares the inundation of lands currently home to about 5 million people, including 60 000 individuals currently residing in Small Island Developing States. We quantify projected changes to the expected frequency of historical 10-, 100-, and 500-year ESL events using frequency amplification factors that incorporate uncertainty in both local SLR and historical return periods of ESLs. By 2150, relative to a 2.0 °C scenario, the reduction in the frequency amplification of the historical 100 year ESL event arising from a 1.5 °C GMST stabilization is greatest in the eastern United States, with ESL event frequency amplification being reduced by about half at most tide gauges. In general, smaller reductions are projected for Small Island Developing States.

KW - IPCC

KW - climate change impacts

KW - coastal flooding

KW - extreme sea levels

KW - paris agreement

KW - sea level rise

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