Scientific Objectives

As its central scientific objective, SeaLevel aims to perform an integrated analysis of climate-related sea level change and associated coastal human-environment interactions. SeaLevel focuses on two study regions: the North and Baltic Seas, and the Island States of South-East Asia, in order to understand how coastal vulnerability and sea level rise response strategies vary in distinctly different cultural, political and socio-economic contexts, considering also social aspects of sea level rise impacts on Asian coastal megacities.

To reach the program's objective requires an improved understanding of many aspects of regional sea level change, ranging from processes influencing sea level on global and basin scale, to geophysical processes acting on a regional to local scale, as well as social processes related to human-environment interactions.

The main goals of SeaLevel are to:

  1. improve the physical knowledge base of regional, climate-related sea level change,
  2. improve regional and local sea level projections,
  3. investigate which socio-institutional factors enable or hinder coastal societies to cope with changing sea levels,
  4. determine the natural and social coastal systems responses to future sea level change, and
  5. assess adaptation strategies to sea level change under given technical, economic, cultural, social and political constraints.

To perform those integrated analyses, sea level change information, including local sea level projections, storm surges, waves and extremes, uncertainty and risk measures need to be provided at their coastlines.

SeaLevel aims to regionalize large-scale, climate-related sea level change information on time scales up to 50 years. For a complete understanding of past, contemporary and future coastal sea level change, we need to:

  • quantify at the coastlines the contribution from climate-related factors due to changing atmospheric forcing (including wind stress) and in turn, changes in ocean circulation, and associated non-uniform thermo- and halo-steric expansion of sea water, in addition to mass redistribution;
  • advance our understanding on regional interactions between the open ocean, shelf sea, ice sheet boundaries and morphodynamics;
  • investigate regional sea level change predictability for our coastal study areas;
  • derive respective uncertainty information;
  • merge dynamical sea level information with responses expected from the solid earth and shoreline due to hydrological and sediment transport processes;
  • use this information to investigate socio-economic implications and interactions of regional sea level change, while simultaneously analyze awareness, adaptation needs and responses of coastal communities, and risk management decisions to be implemented in the study regions; 
  • compare developed and developing coastal and island nations in different cultural settings: regionally specific effects, vulnerabilities, resilience, adaptive capacities and response strategies to deal with sea level change, while drawing from previous experiences in the South Pacific, Indian Ocean, the North and Baltic Seas.

Results from these investigations from WP C will feed back to WPs A and B to further improve sea level rise projections for the use of coastal communities. All studies performed within the SPP-1889 will be done interactively and in a two-way approach, involving the communication of sea-level information to coastal management users, as well as informing the sea level scientists about decision making processes.

The SPP-1889 SeaLevel will create a knowledge basis for quantitative coastal zone management, both in the study regions, but also applicable to many other endangered places globally.

Human dimensions of sea level change

Sea level rise is threatening coastal societies with a large range of socio-economic consequences. This includes a reduction or loss of vital coastal ecosystem services such as ...

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Recent and future large-scale sea level changes

Since the end of the 19th century, global mean sea level is estimated to have risen by about 20 cm, and the rise appears to have accelerated during the past two decades ...

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Ocean – ice sheet interaction

The interface between oceans and ice sheets plays an important role in the future melting of ice sheets. However, the processes occurring at this interface are only poorly understood and ...

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Solid Earth sea level change contributions

For quantitative projections of regional sea level change we need to quantify factors arising from the visco-elastic response of the solid Earth to ice/water mass redistributions ...

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Shelf sea dynamics and storm surges

Quantitative projections of future coastal sea level changes and an accurate assessment of socioeconomic impacts of high-end sea level and extreme events demand to improve ...

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Scientific Objectives

As its central scientific objective, SeaLevel aims to perform an integrated analysis of climaterelated sea level change and associated coastal human-environment interactions with a focus on two study regions ...

> read more