Sea Level Rise | JPI OCEANS

Sea Level Rise

Joint Action Facts
Strategic area:
  • Climate change impact on physical and biological ocean processes
Type of action:
  • Knowledge hub
External partners:
  • JPI Climate
More Information
Secretariat Contact:

Thorsten Kiefer

Tel. +32 (0) 2626 16 65

About

JPI Oceans and JPI Climate are jointly establishing a Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise. The Management Board of JPI Oceans approved the Terms of Reference at its meeting on 4-5 November 2019, parallel to the Governing Board of JPI Climate. With that the Knowledge Hub has entered the phase where structures are formally established (see online workshop on 22-23 April 2020) and activities are implemented.
 
The Knowledge Hub is supported by the Horizon 2020 project SINCERE (Strengthening INternational Cooperation on climatE change REsearch), Deltares (Netherlands Centre for Coastal Research, KNRM (the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) and CNRM (the French National Meteorological Research Centre). 

Objectives

The Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise focuses on regional to local sea level changes in Europe and the needs and involvement of policy making and coastal planning.  It aims to provide a networking platform to promote exchange, synthesis, integration and generation of knowledge on regional and global, historic and future sea level rise to support development and implementation of related policies at local, national and European level. The event will facilitate the interaction between research and policy professionals with different disciplinary backgrounds and expertise by assessing and communicating recent scientific and socio-economic developments at an aggregation level adjusted to ongoing themes and debates in policy and public arenas. 

Impact

Even the low-end values of sea level rise predictions are expected to affect the livelihoods of residents of the ever-growing coastal populations worldwide and will potentially lead to mass resettlement and migration. Besides the most evident phenomenon of permanent inundation of low-elevation areas, various other pressing issues arise. Coastal flooding and erosion, saltwater intrusion into groundwater and agricultural soils, and an increased inland penetration of tropical storm surges are some of the highlighted hazards. Further monitoring of current sea level rise and its drivers, developing model projections and supporting coastal defense strategies are thus of great importance.

Approach

By addressing scientific knowledge gaps and exchanging information between the involved disciplines (e.g. ocean and climate sciences, as well as social sciences) the Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise can enable policy makers to make well-informed decisions regarding protective and adaptive measures. Providing more frequent, detailed and regional-scaled assessments of sea level change might facilitate national policy-making. A cooperative and interdisciplinary approach is envisaged to transfer knowledge and expertise among European member states in order to come up with solutions to this global challenge and its regional to local specifics. 
 

Envisioned Outcomes

The long-term ambition of the Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise is to provide periodic assessments of knowledge on sea level rise drivers, impacts and policy options for each of the major ocean basins around Europe. The ambition is to provide easy access to usable knowledge on regional-local sea level change in Europe, regularly updated as a series of periodic assessments. It will complement existing global and European assessments by providing additional geographical and contextual detail, tailored to regional, national and European policy development and implementation.

Background

Global changes

Global sea level rise is expected to be among the most costly and irreversible consequences of climate change. Since 1900, the global mean sea level has risen by approximately 20 cm  and it is continuously rising at increasing rates of currently more than 3 mm per year, associated with anthropogenic climate change. Publications from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), such as the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), have strengthened the evidence for a predominant role of anthropogenic climate change in the observed global mean sea level rise and in the acceleration over recent decades. Current global sea level rise projections for the end of the 21st century vary between 40 cm and 2.5 m. This broad projection range results from uncertainties regarding the future greenhouse gas emissions, thermal expansion, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, and isostatic adjustments.
 

Regional to local sea level changes

Absolute sea levels have risen in all coastal regions in Europe, with significant regional variation. Relative to land, the sea level rise along most European coasts is predicted to be similar to the global projections. Countries that are experiencing considerable land rise due to post-glacial rebound (e.g. along the northern Baltic Sea and the northern Atlantic coast), are an exception to this rule. Increases in local relative mean sea levels and meteorologically driven surge components are projected to result in extreme high coastal water levels in most locations. Coastal flood damage in Europe is likely to increase substantially in the absence of adaptation measures.
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