Amid increasingly extreme projections for future sea-level rise, concerns are mounting that policymakers are struggling to keep abreast of fast-paced scientific developments. To ease this burden and increase the accessibility of published research, we have compiled an editor-curated collection of the most recent sea-level rise articles published at Nature Communications.
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.
Rising seas are a legacy of present and future climate change. Here the authors show that under the Paris Agreement, emissions in the next decades have a strong influence on the amount of sea level rise in the centuries to come, with the uncertainty dominated by ice-sheet contributions.
A paucity of natural archives can make resolving rapid ocean rises induced by ice-sheet collapses during past periods of warming difficult. Here the authors show that systematic and common coralgal terraces record punctuated sea level rise events over decades to centuries during the last deglaciation.
Inundation and erosion could make many atoll islands uninhabitable over the next century. Here the authors present an analysis of change in the atoll nation of Tuvalu that shows a 2.9% increase in land area over the past four decades, with 74% of islands increasing in size, despite rising sea levels.
Ice core data show a breakdown in the long-term temperature-atmospheric CO2 correlation during interglacial-glacial transitions. Here, via a novel modelling approach, the authors reveal marine volcanism, triggered by a fall in sea level, as a likely mechanism for the observed delayed decline in atmospheric CO2.
Potential increase in coastal wetland vulnerability to sea-level rise suggested by considering hydrodynamic attenuation effects
Predictions of coastal wetland response to sea-level rise often neglect attenuation effects due to vegetation and infrastructure. Here, the authors show that including attenuation effects improves prediction of wetland evolution and suggests increases in wetland vulnerability to sea-level rise.
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.
Half-metre sea-level fluctuations on centennial timescales from mid-Holocene corals of Southeast Asia
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.