Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Contributions of internal climate variability to mitigation of projected future regional sea level rise

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 16:15
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Observations indicate that the global mean surface temperature is rising, so does the global mean sea level. Sea level rise (SLR) can impose significant impacts on island and coastal communities, especially when SLR is compounded with storm surges. Here, via analyzing results from two sets of ensemble simulations from the Community Earth System Model version 1, we investigate how the potential SLR benefits through mitigating the future emission scenarios from business as usual to a mild-mitigation over the 21st Century would be affected by internal climate variability. Results show that there is almost no SLR benefit in the near term due to the large SLR variability due to the internal ocean dynamics. However, toward the end of the 21st century, the SLR benefit can be as much as a 26±1% reduction of the global mean SLR due to seawater thermal expansion. Regionally, the benefits from this mitigation for both near and long terms are heterogeneous. They vary from just a 11±5% SLR reduction in Melbourne, Australia to a 35±6% reduction in London. The processes contributing to these regional differences are the coupling of the wind-driven ocean circulation with the decadal scale sea surface temperature mode in the Pacific and Southern Oceans, and the changes of the thermohaline circulation and the mid-latitude air-sea coupling in the Atlantic.

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