Extreme sea levels at different global warming levels

Claudia Tebaldi, Roshanka Ranasinghe, Michalis Vousdoukas, D. J. Rasmussen, Ben Vega-Westhoff, Ebru Kirezci, Robert E. Kopp, Ryan Sriver & Lorenzo Mentaschi

DOI: 10.1038/s41558-021-01127-1

Abstract:

The Paris agreement focused global climate mitigation policy on limiting global warming to 1.5 or 2 °C above pre-industrial levels. Consequently, projections of hazards and risk are increasingly framed in terms of global warming levels rather than emission scenarios. Here, we use a multimethod approach to describe changes in extreme sea levels driven by changes in mean sea level associated with a wide range of global warming levels, from 1.5 to 5 °C, and for a large number of locations, providing uniform coverage over most of the world’s coastlines. We estimate that by 2100 ~50% of the 7,000+ locations considered will experience the present-day 100-yr extreme-sea-level event at least once a year, even under 1.5 °C of warming, and often well before the end of the century. The tropics appear more sensitive than the Northern high latitudes, where some locations do not see this frequency change even for the highest global warming levels.

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