Nav: Home

Rising sea level estimates require collaborative response, Princeton-PSU experts say

December 15, 2016

Policymakers and scientists must act quickly and collaboratively to help coastal areas better prepare for rising sea levels globally, say climate change experts from Princeton and Penn State universities.

Their analysis will appear Friday, Dec. 16, in the journal Science. A PDF is available on request.

Recent estimates suggest that global mean sea level rise could exceed two meters by 2100. These projections are higher than previous estimates and are based on the latest understanding of how the Antarctic ice sheet has behaved in the past and how sensitive it is to future climate change. The projections pose a challenge for scientists and policymakers alike, requiring far-reaching decisions about coastal policies to be made based on rapidly evolving projections with large, persistent uncertainties.

"An effective approach to managing coastal risk should couple research priorities to policy needs, enabling judicious decision-making while focusing research on a few key questions," write co-authors Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton, and Richard Alley, a professor of geosciences at Penn State.

The researchers say scientific developments are emerging too fast to be captured by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments. "Policy-makers are left without a means to contextualize recent estimates, which remain highly uncertain," the authors write. "But ignoring such estimates could prove disastrous."

They say waiting another few decades to decide on specific adaptations in the hope that scientific predictions will become firmer may put completion off until the last quarter of this century. At that time, actual sea level rise could be approaching two meters, with a much larger rise still to come.

"Scientists can contribute to improving the basis for policy judgments by presenting policy-makers with projections that are as fully probabilistic as possible while also characterizing deep uncertainties, rather than just handing the worst-case or most-likely estimates," write Oppenheimer and Alley. "Coastal protection is a risk management issue, and risks cannot be fully managed outside a probabilistic context."
-end-
Available to comment are Princeton Professor Michael Oppenheimer at omichael@exchange.Princeton.EDU and Penn State Professor Richard Alley at rba6@psu.edu.

Broadcast studios: Princeton has TV and radio studios available for interviews. For more information, visit: https://www.princeton.edu/bc/services/ or contact bctv@princeton.edu, (609) 258-7872.

For more Princeton University news, visit:

http://www.Princeton.edu/newsmedia

http://www.Facebook.com/princetonu

http://www.Twitter.com/princeton

Princeton University

Related Climate Change Articles:

Mysterious climate change
New research findings underline the crucial role that sea ice throughout the Southern Ocean played for atmospheric CO2 in times of rapid climate change in the past.
Mapping the path of climate change
Predicting a major transition, such as climate change, is extremely difficult, but the probabilistic framework developed by the authors is the first step in identifying the path between a shift in two environmental states.
Small change for climate change: Time to increase research funding to save the world
A new study shows that there is a huge disproportion in the level of funding for social science research into the greatest challenge in combating global warming -- how to get individuals and societies to overcome ingrained human habits to make the changes necessary to mitigate climate change.
Sub-national 'climate clubs' could offer key to combating climate change
'Climate clubs' offering membership for sub-national states, in addition to just countries, could speed up progress towards a globally harmonized climate change policy, which in turn offers a way to achieve stronger climate policies in all countries.
Review of Chinese atmospheric science research over the past 70 years: Climate and climate change
Over the past 70 years since the foundation of the People's Republic of China, Chinese scientists have made great contributions to various fields in the research of atmospheric sciences, which attracted worldwide attention.
A CERN for climate change
In a Perspective article appearing in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Tim Palmer (Oxford University), and Bjorn Stevens (Max Planck Society), critically reflect on the present state of Earth system modelling.
Fairy-wrens change breeding habits to cope with climate change
Warmer temperatures linked to climate change are having a big impact on the breeding habits of one of Australia's most recognisable bird species, according to researchers at The Australian National University (ANU).
Believing in climate change doesn't mean you are preparing for climate change, study finds
Notre Dame researchers found that although coastal homeowners may perceive a worsening of climate change-related hazards, these attitudes are largely unrelated to a homeowner's expectations of actual home damage.
Older forests resist change -- climate change, that is
Older forests in eastern North America are less vulnerable to climate change than younger forests, particularly for carbon storage, timber production, and biodiversity, new research finds.
Could climate change cause infertility?
A number of plant and animal species could find it increasingly difficult to reproduce if climate change worsens and global temperatures become more extreme -- a stark warning highlighted by new scientific research.
More Climate Change News and Climate Change Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.