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

The Role of Climate Sensitivity in Upper‐Tail Sea Level Rise Projections

TitleThe Role of Climate Sensitivity in Upper‐Tail Sea Level Rise Projections
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsVega-Westhoff, B., Sriver R. L., Hartin C., Wong T. E., and Keller K.
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume47
Number6
Abstract / Summary

The current uncertainty surrounding the Earth's equilibrium climate sensitivity is an important driver for climate hazard projections. While the implications for projected global temperature changes have been extensively studied, the impacts on sea level projections have been relatively unexplored. Here we analyze the relationship between the climate sensitivity and sea level projections, with a particular focus on the high‐impact upper tail. We utilize a Bayesian calibration of key climate and sea level parameters using historical observations and the reduced‐complexity Earth system model, Hector‐BRICK. This methodology allows us to focus on plausible realizations of the climate system in a probabilistic framework. We analyze the effects of high‐end climate sensitivity (above 5 K) on projections and spatial patterns of sea level change. The sea level projections hinge critically on the upper tail of the climate sensitivity, especially for the highly decision‐relevant upper tail. Results have important implications for timing of threshold exceedances and regional variability.

URLhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1029/2019gl085792
DOI10.1029/2019gl085792
Funding Program: 
Journal: Geophysical Research Letters
Year of Publication: 2020
Volume: 47
Number: 6
Publication Date: 03/2020

The current uncertainty surrounding the Earth's equilibrium climate sensitivity is an important driver for climate hazard projections. While the implications for projected global temperature changes have been extensively studied, the impacts on sea level projections have been relatively unexplored. Here we analyze the relationship between the climate sensitivity and sea level projections, with a particular focus on the high‐impact upper tail. We utilize a Bayesian calibration of key climate and sea level parameters using historical observations and the reduced‐complexity Earth system model, Hector‐BRICK. This methodology allows us to focus on plausible realizations of the climate system in a probabilistic framework. We analyze the effects of high‐end climate sensitivity (above 5 K) on projections and spatial patterns of sea level change. The sea level projections hinge critically on the upper tail of the climate sensitivity, especially for the highly decision‐relevant upper tail. Results have important implications for timing of threshold exceedances and regional variability.

DOI: 10.1029/2019gl085792
Citation:
Vega-Westhoff, B, R Sriver, C Hartin, T Wong, and K Keller.  2020.  "The Role of Climate Sensitivity in Upper‐Tail Sea Level Rise Projections."  Geophysical Research Letters 47(6).  https://doi.org/10.1029/2019gl085792.