Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/sp-2023-36
https://doi.org/10.5194/sp-2023-36
12 Dec 2023
 | 12 Dec 2023
Status: this preprint is currently under review for the journal SP.

Sea Level Rise in Europe: Observations and projections

Angélique Melet, Roderik van de Wal, Angel Amores, Arne Arns, Alisée A. Chaigneau, Irina Dinu, Ivan D. Haigh, Tim H. J. Hermans, Piero Lionello, Marta Marcos, H. E. Markus Meier, Benoit Meyssignac, Matthew D. Palmer, Ronja Reese, Matthew J. R. Simpson, and Aimée Slangen

Abstract. Sea level rise (SLR) is a major concern for Europe, where 30 million people live in the historical 1-in-100-year event flood coastal plains. The latest IPCC assessment reports provide a literature review on past and projected SLR, and their key findings are synthesized here with a focus on Europe. The present paper complements IPCC reports and contributes to the Knowledge Hub on SLR European Assessment Report. Here, the state of knowledge of observed and 21st century projected SLR and changes in extreme sea levels (ESLs) are documented with more regional information for European basins as scoped with stakeholders. In Europe, satellite altimetry shows that absolute sea level trends are on average slightly above the global mean rate, with only a few areas showing no change or a slight decrease such as central parts of the Mediterranean Sea. The spatial pattern of absolute SLR in European Seas is largely influenced by internal climate modes, especially the North Atlantic Oscillation, which varies on year-to-year to decadal timescales. In terms of relative sea level rise (RSLR), vertical land motions due to human induced subsidence and glacial isostatic adjustment (GIA) are important for many coastal European regions, leading to lower or even negative RSLR in the Baltic Sea, and to large rates of RSLR for subsiding coastlines. Projected 21st century local SLR for Europe is broadly in-line with projections of GMSLR rise in most places. Some European coasts are projected to experience a relative SLR by 2100 below the projected GMSLR, such as the Norwegian coast, the southern Baltic Sea, the northern part of the UK and Ireland. A relative sea level fall is projected for the northern Baltic Sea. RSLR along other EU coasts is projected to be slightly above the GMSLR, for instance the Atlantic coasts of Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Higher-resolution regionalized projections are needed to better resolve dynamic sea level changes especially in semi-enclosed basins, such as the Mediterranean Sea, North Sea, Baltic Sea and Black Sea. In addition to ocean dynamics, GIA and Greenland ice mass loss and associated Earth gravity, rotation and deformation effects are important drivers of spatial variations of projected European RSLR. High-end estimates of SLR in Europe are particularly sensitive to uncertainties arising from the estimates of the Antarctic ice mass loss. Regarding ESLs, the frequency of occurrence of the historical centennial event (HCE) level is projected to be amplified for most EU coasts, except along the northern Baltic Sea coasts where a decreasing probability is projected because of relative sea level fall induced by GIA. The largest HCE amplification factors are projected for the southern European Seas (Mediterranean and Iberian Peninsula coasts), while the smallest amplification factors are projected in macro-tidal regions exposed to storms and induced large surges such as the south-eastern North Sea. Finally, an emphasis is given on processes that are especially important for specific regions, such as waves, tides in the north-eastern Atlantic; vertical land motion for the European Arctic and Baltic Sea; seiches, meteo-tsunamis and medicanes in the Mediterranean Sea; non-linear interactions between drivers of coastal sea level extremes in the shallow North Sea.

Angélique Melet, Roderik van de Wal, Angel Amores, Arne Arns, Alisée A. Chaigneau, Irina Dinu, Ivan D. Haigh, Tim H. J. Hermans, Piero Lionello, Marta Marcos, H. E. Markus Meier, Benoit Meyssignac, Matthew D. Palmer, Ronja Reese, Matthew J. R. Simpson, and Aimée Slangen

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: 'Comment on sp-2023-36 Congratulations on Your Comprehensive Analysis of Sea Level Rise in Europe', Mehmet Ozdes, 18 Dec 2023
  • CC2: 'Comment on sp-2023-36', Sergiu Dov ROSEN, 06 Jan 2024
  • CC3: 'Comment on sp-2023-36 by Sergiu Dov ROSEN.', Sergiu Dov ROSEN, 18 Jan 2024
  • RC1: 'Comment on sp-2023-36', Anonymous Referee #1, 31 Jan 2024
  • CC4: 'Comment on sp-2023-36', Hartmut Hein, 29 Feb 2024
  • RC2: 'Comment on sp-2023-36', Anonymous Referee #2, 20 Mar 2024
Angélique Melet, Roderik van de Wal, Angel Amores, Arne Arns, Alisée A. Chaigneau, Irina Dinu, Ivan D. Haigh, Tim H. J. Hermans, Piero Lionello, Marta Marcos, H. E. Markus Meier, Benoit Meyssignac, Matthew D. Palmer, Ronja Reese, Matthew J. R. Simpson, and Aimée Slangen
Angélique Melet, Roderik van de Wal, Angel Amores, Arne Arns, Alisée A. Chaigneau, Irina Dinu, Ivan D. Haigh, Tim H. J. Hermans, Piero Lionello, Marta Marcos, H. E. Markus Meier, Benoit Meyssignac, Matthew D. Palmer, Ronja Reese, Matthew J. R. Simpson, and Aimée Slangen

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Short summary
The EU Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise’s Assessment Report strives to synthesize the current scientific knowledge on sea level rise and its impacts across local, national, and EU scale, to support evidence-based policy and decision making primarily targeting coastal areas. This paper complements IPCC reports by documenting the state of knowledge of observed and 21st century projected changes in mean and extreme sea levels with more regional information for EU seas as scoped with stakeholders.
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