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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Evolution of 21st Century Sea Level Rise Projections

Authors:

Andra Garner

Jeremy Weiss

Adam Parris

Robert Kopp

Radley Horton

Jonathan Overpeck

Benjamin Horton

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2018
Secondary Title:
Earth's Future
ISSN:
2328-4277
DOI:
10.1029/2018EF000991
Pages:
1603-1615
Volume:
6
Year:
2018
Date:
29-Oct-2019
URL:
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1029/2018EF000991

Abstract

The modern era of scientific global-mean sea level rise (SLR) projections began in the early 1980s. In subsequent decades, understanding of driving processes has improved, and new methodologies have been developed. Nonetheless, despite more than 70 studies, future SLR remains deeply uncertain. To facilitate understanding of the historical development of SLR projections and contextualize current projections, we have compiled a comprehensive database of 21st century global SLR projections. Although central estimates of 21st century global-mean SLR have been relatively consistent, the range of projected SLR has varied greatly over time. Among studies providing multiple estimates, the range of upper projections shrank from 1.3–1.8 m during the 1980s to 0.6–0.9 m in 2007, before expanding again to 0.5–2.5 m since 2013. Upper projections of SLR from individual studies are generally higher than upper projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, potentially due to differing percentile bounds or a predisposition of consensus-based approaches toward relatively conservative outcomes.