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Evidence for century-timescale acceleration in mean sea levels and for recent changes in extreme sea levels

By Philip L. Woodworth, Melissa Menendez and W. Roland Gehrels

Abstract

Two of the most important topics in Sea Level Science are addressed in this paper. One is concerned with the evidence for the apparent acceleration in the rate of global sea level change between the 19th and 20th centuries and, thereby, with the question of whether the 20th century sea\ud level rise was a consequence of an accelerated climate change of anthropogenic origin. An acceleration is indeed observed in both tide gauge and saltmarsh data at different locations around the world, yielding quadratic coefficients ‘c’ of order 0.005 mm/year2 , and with the most rapid changes of rate of sea level rise occurring around the end of the 19th century. The second topic\ud refers to whether there is evidence that extreme sea levels have increased in recent decades at rates significantly different from those in mean levels. Recent results, which suggest that at most locations rates of change of extreme and mean sea levels are comparable, are presented. In\ud addition, a short review is given of recent work on extreme sea levels by other authors. This body of work, which is focused primarily on Europe and the Mediterranean, also tends to support mean and extreme sea levels changing at similar rates at most location

Topics: Marine Sciences, Earth Sciences
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.1007/s10712-011-9112-8
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:13245

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