The impact of uncertainties in ice sheet dynamics on sea-level allowances at tide gauge locations

Slangen, Aimée B.A.; van de Wal, Roderik S.W.; Reerink, Thomas J.; de Winter, Renske C.; Hunter, John R.; Woodworth, Philip L.; Edwards, Tamsin. 2017 The impact of uncertainties in ice sheet dynamics on sea-level allowances at tide gauge locations. Journal of Marine Science and Engineering, 5 (2). 21.

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Sea level is projected to rise in the coming centuries as a result of a changing climate. One of the major uncertainties is the projected contribution of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to sea-level rise (SLR). Here, we study the impact of different shapes of uncertainty distributions of the ice sheets on so-called sea-level allowances. An allowance indicates the height a coastal structure needs to be elevated to keep the same frequency and likelihood of sea-level extremes under a projected amount of mean SLR. Allowances are always larger than the projected SLR. Their magnitude depends on several factors, such as projection uncertainty and the typical variability of the extreme events at a location. Our results show that allowances increase significantly for ice sheet dynamics uncertainty distributions that are more skewed (more than twice, compared to Gaussian uncertainty distributions), due to the increased probability of a much larger ice sheet contribution to SLR. The allowances are largest in regions where a relatively small observed variability in the extremes is paired with relatively large magnitude and/or large uncertainty in the projected SLR, typically around the equator. Under the RCP8.5 (Representative Concentration Pathway) projections of SLR, the likelihood of extremes increases more than a factor 104 at more than 50-87% of the tide gauges.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2077-1312
Additional Keywords: Sea-level rise; Allowances; Sea-level extremes
Date made live: 16 May 2017 08:47 +0 (UTC)

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