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Understanding Sea-Level Rise and Variability


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Table of Contents

Editor Biographies x List of Contributors xi Foreword xvii Acknowledgments xix Abbreviations and Acronyms xxii 1 Introduction 1 Philip L. Woodworth, John A. Church, Thorkild Aarup, and W. Stanley Wilson References 15 2 Impacts of and Responses to Sea-Level Rise 17 Robert J. Nicholls 2.1 Introduction 17 2.2 Climate Change and Global/Relative Sea-Level Rise 18 2.3 Sea-Level Rise and Resulting Impacts 22 2.4 Framework and Methods for the Analysis of Sea-Level-Rise Impacts 25 2.5 Recent Impacts of Sea-Level Rise 27 2.6 Future Impacts of Sea-Level Rise 30 2.7 Responding to Sea-Level Rise 37 2.8 Next Steps 40 2.9 Concluding Remarks 41 Acknowledgments 43 References 43 3 A First-Order Assessment of the Impact of Long-Term Trends in Extreme Sea Levels on Offshore Structures and Coastal Refineries 52 Ralph Rayner and Bev MacKenzie 3.1 Introduction 52 3.2 Design Considerations 54 3.3 Impact of Long-Term Trends in Extreme Sea Levels 55 3.4 Evaluating the Economic Impact 57 3.5 Conclusions 58 References 59 4 Paleoenvironmental Records, Geophysical Modeling, and Reconstruction of Sea-Level Trends and Variability on Centennial and Longer Timescales 61 Kurt Lambeck, Colin D. Woodroffe, Fabrizio Antonioli, Marco Anzidei, W. Roland Gehrels, Jacques Laborel, and Alex J. Wright 4.1 Introduction 61 4.2 Past Sea-Level Changes 62 4.3 Sea-Level Indicators 73 4.4 Geophysical Modeling of Variability in Relative Sea-Level History 84 4.5 Regional Case Studies 88 4.6 Discussion and Conclusions 95 Acknowledgments 105 References 105 5 Modern Sea-Level-Change Estimates 122 Gary T. Mitchum, R. Steven Nerem, Mark A. Merrifield, and W. Roland Gehrels 5.1 Introduction 122 5.2 Estimates from Proxy Sea-Level Records 123 5.3 Estimates of Global Sea-Level Change from Tide Gauges 126 5.4 Estimates of Global Sea-Level Change from Satellite Altimetry 133 5.5 Recommendations 137 Acknowledgments 138 References 138 6 Ocean Temperature and Salinity Contributions to Global and Regional Sea-Level Change 143 John A. Church, Dean Roemmich, Catia M. Domingues, Josh K. Willis, Neil J. White, John E. Gilson, Detlef Stammer, Armin Koehl, Don P. Chambers, Felix W. Landerer, Jochem Marotzke, Jonathan M. Gregory, Tatsuo Suzuki, Anny Cazenave, and Pierre-Yves Le Traon 6.1 Introduction 143 6.2 Direct Estimates of Steric Sea-Level Rise 145 6.3 Estimating Steric Sea-Level Change Using Ocean Syntheses 152 6.4 Inferring Steric Sea Level from Time-Variable Gravity and Sea Level 154 6.5 Modeling Steric Sea-Level Rise 156 6.6 Conclusions and Recommendations 166 Acknowledgments 168 References 168 7 Cryospheric Contributions to Sea-Level Rise and Variability 177 Konrad Steffen, Robert H. Thomas, Eric Rignot, J. Graham Cogley, Mark B. Dyurgerov, Sarah C.B. Raper, Philippe Huybrechts, and Edward Hanna 7.1 Introduction 177 7.2 Mass-Balance Techniques 178 7.3 Ice-Sheet Mass Balance 180 7.4 Mass Balance of Glaciers and Ice Caps 192 7.5 Glacier, Ice-Cap, and Ice-Sheet Modeling 200 7.6 Summary and Recommendations 210 References 214 8 Terrestrial Water-Storage Contributions to Sea-Level Rise and Variability 226 P.C.D. (Chris) Milly, Anny Cazenave, James S. Famiglietti, Vivien Gornitz, Katia Laval, Dennis P. Lettenmaier, Dork L. Sahagian, John M. Wahr, and Clark R. Wilson 8.1 Introduction 226 8.2 Analysis Tools 229 8.3 Climate-Driven Changes of Terrestrial Water Storage 236 8.4 Direct Anthropogenic Changes of Terrestrial Water Storage 241 8.5 Synthesis 246 8.6 Recommendations 248 References 249 9 Geodetic Observations and Global Reference Frame Contributions to Understanding Sea-Level Rise and Variability 256 Geoff Blewitt, Zuheir Altamimi, James Davis, Richard Gross, Chung-Yen Kuo, Frank G. Lemoine, Angelyn W. Moore, Ruth E. Neilan, Hans-Peter Plag, Markus Rothacher, C.K. Shum, Michael G. Sideris, Tilo Schoene, Paul Tregoning, and Susanna Zerbini 9.1 Introduction 256 9.2 Global and Regional Reference Systems 263 9.3 Linking GPS to Tide Gauges and Tide-Gauge Benchmarks 274 9.4 Recommendations for Geodetic Observations 279 Acknowledgments 281 References 281 10 Surface Mass Loading on a Dynamic Earth: Complexity and Contamination in the Geodetic Analysis of Global Sea-Level Trends 285 Jerry X. Mitrovica, Mark E. Tamisiea, Erik R. Ivins, L.L.A. (Bert) Vermeersen, Glenn A. Milne, and Kurt Lambeck 10.1 Introduction 285 10.2 Glacial Isostatic Adjustment 290 10.3 Sea Level, Sea Surface, and the Geoid 300 10.4 Rapid Melting and Sea-Level Fingerprints 302 10.5 Great Earthquakes 308 10.6 Final Remarks 311 Acknowledgments 313 References 313 11 Past and Future Changes in Extreme Sea Levels and Waves 326 Jason A. Lowe, Philip L. Woodworth, Tom Knutson, Ruth E. McDonald, Kathleen L. McInnes, Katja Woth, Hans von Storch, Judith Wolf, Val Swail, Natacha B. Bernier, Sergey Gulev, Kevin J. Horsburgh, Alakkat S. Unnikrishnan, John R. Hunter, and Ralf Weisse 11.1 Introduction 326 11.2 Evidence for Changes in Extreme Sea Levels and Waves in the Recent Past 327 11.3 Mid-Latitude and Tropical Storms: Changes in the Atmospheric Drivers of Extreme Sea Level 337 11.4 Future Extreme Water Levels 346 11.5 Future Research Needs 357 11.6 Conclusions 361 Acknowledgments 361 References 361 12 Observing Systems Needed to Address Sea-Level Rise and Variability 376 W. Stanley Wilson, Waleed Abdalati, Douglas Alsdorf, Jerome Benveniste, Hans Bonekamp, J. Graham Cogley, Mark R. Drinkwater, Lee-Lueng Fu, Richard Gross, Bruce J. Haines, D.E. Harrison, Gregory C. Johnson, Michael Johnson, John L. LaBrecque, Eric J. Lindstrom, Mark A. Merrifi eld, Laury Miller, Erricos C. Pavlis, Stephen Piotrowicz, Dean Roemmich, Detlef Stammer, Robert H. Thomas, Eric Thouvenot, and Philip L. Woodworth 12.1 Introduction 376 12.2 Sustained, Systematic Observing Systems (Existing Capabilities) 377 12.3 Development of Improved Observing Systems (New Capabilities) 390 12.4 Summary 398 References 400 13 Sea-Level Rise and Variability: Synthesis and Outlook for the Future 402 John A. Church, Thorkild Aarup, Philip L. Woodworth, W. Stanley Wilson, Robert J. Nicholls, Ralph Rayner, Kurt Lambeck, Gary T. Mitchum, Konrad Steffen, Anny Cazenave, Geoff Blewitt, Jerry X. Mitrovica, and Jason A. Lowe 13.1 Historical Sea-Level Change 403 13.2 Why is Sea Level Rising? 405 13.3 The Regional Distribution of Sea-Level Rise 408 13.4 Projections of Sea-Level Rise for the 21st Century and Beyond 409 13.5 Changes in Extreme Events 412 13.6 Sea Level and Society 412 References 416 Index 421

About the Author

John Church is an oceanographer with the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre. He was co-convening lead author for the chapter on sea level in the IPCC Third Assessment Report. He was awarded the 2006 Roger Revelle Medal by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, a CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement in 2006, and the 2007 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research. Philip Woodworth works at the Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory in Liverpool. He is a former Director of the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) and Chairman of Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS). He has been a lead or contributing author for each of the IPCC Research Assessments. He was awarded the Denny Medal of IMAREST in 2009 for innovation in sea-level technology and the Vening Meinesz Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2010 for work in geodesy. Thorkild Aarup is Senior Program Specialist with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and serves as technical secretary for the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS) program. He has a PhD in oceanography from the University of Copenhagen. Stan Wilson has managed programs during his career, first at the Office of Naval Research where he led the Navy s basic research program in physical oceanography, then at NASA Headquarters where he established the Oceanography from Space program, and finally at NOAA where he helped organize the 20-country coalition in support of the Argo Program of profiling floats. Currently the Senior Scientist for NOAA s Satellite & Information Service, he is helping transition Jason satellite altimetry from research into a capability to be sustained by the operational agencies NOAA and EUMETSAT.


The book is written in an elegant and invitingwriting style. The book is quite thoroughly searched. It isalso open and honest about uncertainty. Understanding Sea-level Rise andVariability is full of information, cases and methodologies. The book is for everyone interested in sea-levelrise and its impacts, including policy makers, engineers,researchers, university teachers and students. (International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management, 1 January 2013) In summary, then, this book provides a synthesis offindings regarding sea level rise and its impacts on society. It should be on the desk of everyone concerned about sea level riseand its impacts, not only geoscientists and their research funders,but also policymakers and coastal managers. (Geology Today, 1 September 2012) "In deciphering the many questions regarding the roles ofisostacy, tectonics and neotectonics in sea level change, thisexcellently and vividly illustrated book shows that geoscientistshave much to add to the debate, especially given their knowledge ofthe effects of sea level change in deep time. Each chapter iswritten by a panel of authorities on its topic. The result is abook with much to interest and intrigue geoscientists, coastalengineers and others concerned about modern-day sea level change,and a timely summary given the situation now facing many lowlandareas It should be on the desk of everyone concerned aboutsea level rise and its impacts, including not only geoscientistsand their research funders, but also policymakers and coastalmanagers." (Geology Today, July 2012) Having a structured and insightful book such as this textto back up and illustrate the present findings of sea level rise tospectators at a non-scientific conference is helpful...In littlemore than a dozen chapters, the editors explore and present acomprehensive outlook of the factors contributing to sea level riseand how that relates to probable extreme events in the near future.It also defines the strong and weak points in the present researchand makes observations to reduce the uncertainties in the globalunderstanding of sea level rise. The book is for students,scientists, educators on climate change, coastal managers,developers, engineers, and legislators. It is not only for peopleinterested in the subject to better plan for the future, especiallyaround coastal zones, but for those honestly concerned about thesocial impact of sea level rise and the future shape of humanity inthe remaining of the 21st century." (Bulletin of MarineScience, June 2012) This excellent volume concludes with a chaptersynthesising sea-level rise and variability and considering thefuture outlook for the subject... It will indeed make a valuableaddition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in sea-level riseand its impacts." (The Holocene, 21(7) 1173-1176, 28September 2011) The book is generally of a high quality and wellpresented with few weak papers." (Ocean Challenge, Vol. 18,Number: 3, July 2011) It's a very comprehensive and important aide tounderstanding a globally vital subject." (Baird Maritime, 3February 2012) The book is intellectually rigorous and is open andhonest about uncertainty. Its recommendations for the futureresearch agenda are refreshing and it has signposted the wayforward." (Quaternary Science Reviews, 2011) "In summary, I strongly recommend this book because of itsthorough and exhaustive discussion on all aspects of sea-level risedue to climate change. Virtually every researcher and student ofearth system can find something in it that links his/her field ofinterest to the broad canvas of research on sea-level rise. Thereis useful material in it too for the policymaker concerned withmanagement of coastlines and islands to confront the sea-levelrise. " (India Current Science, Vol. 101, No. 5, September2011) "The editors of this fine book, themselves leading sea-levelresearchers, have assembled a galaxy of contributing authors toprovide a comprehensive and insightful understanding of sea-levelrise and variability. The 13 chapters cover all aspects of thetopic in considerable detail, and together comprise a referencevolume/monograph of sea-level knowledge of great value to theglobal sea-level community." (African Journal of MarineScience, 2011) for the sea-level specialist it is a comprehensiveand beautifully presented book." (Australian Archaeology, 1June 2011) The book certainly made for an enjoyable and educationalread; as could be expected, I found especially rewarding thechapters outside my own professional comfort zone. We need to betalking more." (Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin,2011) "This book explains the lot. It's not escapist fare but it'scrystal clear." (The Australian, 26 November 2010) "This book is highly recommended for anyone interested incoastal science and engineering and sea level history, as well asfor anyone seeking documentation for global change. It would makean excellent text for a graduate-level course orseminar."(EOS, Vol. 92, No. 18, 3 May 2011) "...a reliable and definitive contribution to the literature onthis sometimes controversial subject." (Terra et Aqua,Number 123, June 2011) "...condenses a vast amount of information into one book"(Oceanography, Vol.24, No.2) nicely summarises the state of knowledge to datein clear language that communicates well to the lay person, as wellas to the technical specialist interested in navigation design oroperational details related to sea level. (The WorldAssociation for Waterborne Transportation PIANC E-Newsletter, December 2010)

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