Sea-level rise

Sea-level rise, one of the first identified impacts of climate change, poses a serious risk to a large part of the world’s population who live in coastal areas. There is a pressing need to understand the physical processes driving sea-level rise and coastal inundation to improve projections and provide the best available information to decision makers to inform impact assessments and adaptive management strategies.  

This is a vigorous and dynamic field of research and our scientific understanding of the drivers, impacts and future projections has greatly improved since the last report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2014. With the next IPCC report not due until 2021, scientists and policymakers alike need to keep abreast of these rapid developments. In order to support that process, this collection brings together important, open-access research in sea-level rise published in Nature Communications since the last IPCC report.

This collection has been curated by the Earth science editorial team at Nature Communications and will be updated with new research on a regular basis. The collection is divided into three research areas, observations and drivers of sea-level variability, ice sheet dynamics and their contribution to sea-level rise, and coastal vulnerability to rising sea levels. We hope that the collection proves to be a useful resource for researchers and decision makers who need to manage the high scientific output currently being published.



Editors' picks

  • Nature Communications | Article

    Despite concern over anticipated eustatic sea-level rise, our understanding of past relative sea level, including regional deviations from the global average, is limited. Here, the authors show evidence for synchronous 0.6-m sea-level fluctuations between 6850 and 6500 yr BP at three sites across Southeast Asia.

    • Aron J. Meltzner
    • , Adam D. Switzer
    • , Benjamin P. Horton
    • , Erica Ashe
    • , Qiang Qiu
    • , David F. Hill
    • , Sarah L. Bradley
    • , Robert E. Kopp
    • , Emma M. Hill
    • , Jędrzej M. Majewski
    • , Danny H. Natawidjaja
    •  &  Bambang W. Suwargadi
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Extreme sea level rises are a threat to coastal communities, but their cause, in terms of seasonal or interannual time scales, has received little attention. Here, the authors combine observational and model data to show that one such rise in 2009–10 was caused by a 30% downturn in the Atlantic overturning circulation.

    • Paul B. Goddard
    • , Jianjun Yin
    • , Stephen M. Griffies
    •  &  Shaoqing Zhang
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Mass loss of Greenland’s glaciers and ice caps (GICs) is a major contributor to contemporary sea-level rise. Here, the authors identify the year 1997 as a tipping point in GICs mass loss induced by a rapid deterioration of the refreezing capacity of inland snow, resulting in irreversible long-term mass loss.

    • B. Noël
    • , W. J van de Berg
    • , S. Lhermitte
    • , B. Wouters
    • , H. Machguth
    • , I. Howat
    • , M. Citterio
    • , G. Moholdt
    • , J. T. M. Lenaerts
    •  &  M. R. van den Broeke
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Predicting the West Antarctic Ice Sheet's response to future warming is hindered by a lack of historical evidence. Here, based on geomorphological evidence from and cosmogenic dating of Ellsworth Mountains' deposits, the authors show that at least a regional ice sheet survived Pleistocene interglacial cycles.

    • Andrew S. Hein
    • , John Woodward
    • , Shasta M. Marrero
    • , Stuart A. Dunning
    • , Eric J. Steig
    • , Stewart P. H. T. Freeman
    • , Finlay M. Stuart
    • , Kate Winter
    • , Matthew J. Westoby
    •  &  David E. Sugden
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Coastal Louisiana wetlands face some of the world’s highest rates of relative sea-level rise and loss. Here, the authors show that there is a strong regional component to coastal Louisiana wetland vulnerability to relative sea-level rise as well as contributing to the understanding of subsidence in the region.

    • Krista L. Jankowski
    • , Torbjörn E Törnqvist
    •  &  Anjali M Fernandes
  • Nature Communications | Article

    Uncertainties in contemporary extreme sea levels (ESL) from mean sea level rise (SLR) projections have been overlooked in broad-scale risk and adaptation studies. Here, the authors quantify the uncertainties in present-day global ESL estimates and find that they exceed those from global SLR projections.

    • T. Wahl
    • , I. D. Haigh
    • , R. J. Nicholls
    • , A. Arns
    • , S. Dangendorf
    • , J. Hinkel
    •  &  A. B. A. Slangen