Coastal communities are threatened by sea-level changes operating at various spatial scales; global to regional variations are associated with glacier and ice sheet loss and ocean thermal expansion, while smaller coastal-scale variations are also related to atmospheric surges, tides and waves. Here, using 23 years (1993–2015) of global coastal sea-level observations, we examine the contribution of these latter processes to long-term sea-level rise, which, to date, have been relatively less explored. It is found that wave contributions can strongly dampen or enhance the effects of thermal expansion and land ice loss on coastal water-level changes at interannual-to-multidecadal timescales. Along the US West Coast, for example, negative wave-induced trends dominate, leading to negative net water-level trends. Accurate estimates of past, present and future coastal sea-level rise therefore need to consider low-frequency contributions of wave set-up and swash.
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The authors are grateful to all people and institutions who provided data used in this study, including F. Lyard for providing FES2014 tidal data. R.A. received support from French grants through ANR (COASTVAR ANR-14-ASTR-0019). B.M. and G.L.C. received funding from the ECLISEA (European advances on CLImate services for coasts and SEAs) project, funded through the ERA4CS (European Research Area for Climate Services) framework. This work was supported by the CNES (Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales). It is based on observations from the Topex/Poseidon and Jason 1/2 missions. This work is a contribution to the LEFE/IMPHALA project.
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