Contributions to 21st century projections of extreme sea-level change around the UK

Howard, Tom; Palmer, Matthew D; Bricheno, Lucy M ORCID: 2019 Contributions to 21st century projections of extreme sea-level change around the UK. Environmental Research Communications, 1 (9), 095002.

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We provide a synthesis of results of a recent government-funded initiative to make projections of 21st century change in extreme sea levels around the coast of the United Kingdom. We compare four factors that influence future coastal flood risk: (i) time-mean sea-level (MSL) rise; (ii) changes in storm surge activity; (iii) changes in the offshore wave climate; (iv) changes in tidal amplitude arising from the increase in MSL. Our projections are dominated by the effects of MSL rise, which is typically more than five times larger than any of the other contributions. MSL is projected to rise by about 53 to 115 centimetres at the mouth of the Thames and 30 to 90 centimetres at Edinburgh (5th to 95th percentiles at 2100 relative to 1981–2000 average). Surge model projections disagree on the sign of future changes. Typical simulated changes are around +/−7 centimetres. Because of the disagreement, our best estimate is of no change from this contribution, although we cannot rule out changes of either sign. Wave model projections suggest a decrease in significant wave height of the order of 7 centimetres over the 21st century. However, the limited sample size and uncertainty in projections of changes in atmospheric circulation means that we cannot be confident about the sign of future changes in wave climate. MSL rise may induce changes in tidal amplitude of more than 15 centimetres over the 21st century for the Bristol Channel. However, models disagree on the sign of change there. Elsewhere, our projected tidal amplitude changes are mostly less than 7 centimetres. Whilst changes in MSL dominate, we have shown the potential for all processes considered here to make non-negligible contributions over the 21st century.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2515-7620
Date made live: 02 Mar 2020 13:59 +0 (UTC)

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