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: the North and Baltic Seas and the Island States of South-East Asia. These regions have been chosen to understand how coastal vulnerability and sea level rise response strategies vary in distinctly different cultural, political and socio-economic contexts, taking into account also social aspect of sea level rise impacts on Asian coastal megacities.

Reaching the program’s objective requires greatly improved understanding of many aspects of regional sea level change, ranging from processes influencing sea level on the global and basin scale to geophysical processes acting on a regional to local scale as well as social processes related to human-environment interactions. This will be realized by (1) improving the physical knowledge base of regional climate related sea level change, (2) improving projections of sea level change on a regionalto-local scale, (3) investigating which socio-institutional factors enable or hinder coastal societies to cope with changing sea levels, (4) determining the natural and social coastal systems responses to future sea level change, and (5) assessing strategies to adapt to sea level change under given technical, economic, cultural, social and political constraints. To perform those integrated analyses, sea level change information (local sea level projections, storm surges, waves and extremes), uncertainty and risk measures need to be provided at their coastlines.

The proposed program 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 coast lines the contribution from climate-related factors due to changing atmospheric forcing (including wind stress) leading to changes in the ocean circulation and associated non-uniform thermo- and halo-steric expansion of sea water, in addition to a redistribution of mass. We will investigate regional sea level change predictability for our coastal study areas, derive respective uncertainty information and transform this information into sea level change relative to coast lines by merging dynamical sea level information with responses expected from the solid earth and shore line due to hydrological and sediment transport processes. All this information will be used to investigate socio-economic implications and interactions of regional sea level change and to simultaneously analyze the awareness, adaptation needs and responses of coastal communities as well as risk management decisions to be implemented in the study regions. Drawing from previous experiences in the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, and the North and Baltic Seas, we aim to compare developed and developing coastal and island nations in different cultural settings in terms of regionally specific effects, vulnerabilities, resilience, adaptive capacities and response strategies to deal with sea level change. 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 as part of the SPP will be done in a two-way approach and will be performed interactively, involving the communication of sea-level information to coastal management users; at the same time the process will inform sea level scientist about decision making processes to improve sea level information for decision making processes. The SPP will create a knowledge basis for quantitative coastal zone management studies and will greatly advance our understanding of processes influencing regional sea level from global to basin scale, on regional interactions between the open ocean, shelf sea, ice sheet boundaries and morphodynamics.

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