Location of Repository

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


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

Suggested articles



  1. (2008). (2009a) An anomalous recent acceleration of global sea level rise. doi
  2. (2009). (2009b) Insight into long term sea level change based on new tide gauge installations at Takoradi,
  3. (2006). 20th Century sea-level change along the eastern US: unravelling the contributions from steric changes, Greenland ice sheet mass balance and Late Pleistocene glacial loading.
  4. (2006). A 20th century acceleration in global sea-level rise.
  5. (2008). A 20th century sea-level acceleration in New Zealand. Geophys Res Lett 35: L02717, doi 10.1029/2007GL032632.
  6. (2011). A and Velicogna I
  7. (1990). A search for accelerations in records of European mean sea level.
  8. (2007). A study of early Trieste sea level data (1875–1914).
  9. (2010). A survey of recent changes in the main components of the ocean tide. doi
  10. (2010). Assessing changes in extreme sea levels: Application to the English Channel,
  11. Cazenave A (eds.) (2001) Satellite altimetry and earth sciences. A handbook of techniques and applications.
  12. (2008). Cearetta A
  13. (2010). Changes in atmospheric circulation over the North Atlantic and sea-surge variations along the Belgian coast during the twentieth century.
  14. (2010). Changes in extreme high water levels based on a quasiglobal tide-gauge dataset.
  15. (2001). Changes in sea level. In: Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, edited by
  16. (2008). Changes in the regime of storm surges in Buenos Aires,
  17. (2008). Climate change projections of sea level extremes along the California coast. Clim Chang 87(Supplement 1): S57– S73,
  18. (2004). Coupling instrumental and geological records of sea level change: Evidence from southern New England of an increase in the rate of sea level rise in the late 19th century.
  19. Erratum in 2006,
  20. (2010). Estimating sea-level extremes under conditions of uncertain sea-level rise.
  21. (2004). Evidence for enhanced coastal sea level rise during the 1990s.
  22. (2004). Evidence for systematic changes in extreme high waters since the mid-1970s. doi
  23. (2009). Evolution of tidal amplitudes in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
  24. (2009). Extreme sea levels, coastal flooding and climate change with a focus on Atlantic Canada.
  25. Gehrels WR (2009a) Evidence for the accelerations of sea level on multi-decade and century timescales. doi
  26. Gehrels WR (2010) Modern Sea-Level-Change Estimates. Chapter 5 in, Understanding sea-level rise and variability
  27. (2007). Gyre-scale atmospheric pressure variations and their relation to 19th and 20th century sea level rise. doi
  28. (1999). High waters at Liverpool since 1768: the UK's longest sea level record.
  29. (2009). Identifying the causes of sea-level change. doi
  30. (2008). Improved estimates of upper-ocean warming and multi-decadal sea-level rise.
  31. (2009). Is coastal mean sea level rising faster than the global mean? A comparison between tide gauges and satellite altimetry over 1993-2007. Geophys Res Lett 36: L05602,
  32. (2009). Long-term variability and trends of sea level storminess and extremes in European Seas.
  33. (2003). Measuring progress of the Global Sea Level Observing System. doi
  34. (2006). Nonlinear trends and multiyear cycles in sea level records.
  35. (2010). Nonstationary extreme value analysis of annual maximum water levels for designing coastal structures on the German North Sea coastline.
  36. (2007). On the decadal rates of sea level change during the twentieth century.
  37. (2009). On the effect of the sampling frequency of sea level measurements on return period estimate of extremes -Southern European examples.
  38. (2005). Onset of recent rapid sea level rise in the western Atlantic Ocean.
  39. (2010). Palaeoenvironmental records, geophysical modelling and reconstruction of sea-level trends and variability on centennial and longer time scales.
  40. (2006). Rapid sea level rise in the North Atlantic Ocean since the first half of the 19th century.
  41. (2007). Recent climate observations compared to projections.
  42. (2008). Recent global sea level acceleration started over 200 years ago?
  43. (2001). Recent mass balance of polar ice sheets inferred from patterns of global sea-level change. doi
  44. (2010). Relative sea level change in west Greenland during the last millennium.
  45. (2010). Sea level at Saint Paul Island, Southern Indian Ocean, from 1874 to the present. J Geophys Res,
  46. (2009). Sea level extremes in southern Europe. doi
  47. (2008). Sea level responses to climatic variability and change in Northern British Columbia. doi
  48. (1993). Sea level rise at Key West, Florida, 1846-1992: America's longest instrument record? doi
  49. (2009). Sea level: regional and global trends. In:
  50. (1991). Sea levels, land levels, and tide gauges.
  51. (2008). Sea surges around the Gulf of Lions and atmospheric conditions.
  52. (2010). Sea-level changes since the Last Glacial Maximum: an appraisal of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.
  53. (2011). Sea-level rise from the late 19th to the early 21st Century. Surveys in Geophysics (this volume).
  54. (2010). Seasonal sea level extremes in the Mediterranean Sea and at the Atlantic European coasts.
  55. (2011). Special report of the “Managing the risks of extreme events and disasters to advance climate change adaptation (SREX)”
  56. (2009). Storm surges and coastal impacts at Mar del Plata,
  57. (2003). Storminess variability along the California coast: 1858– doi
  58. (2010). Surface mass loading on a dynamic Earth: complexity and contamination in the geodetic analysis of global sea-level trends.
  59. (2003). The Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level: an update to the 21st century.
  60. (2003). The sea level at Port Arthur, Tasmania, from 1841 to the present.
  61. (2006). The Sea Level at Port-aux-Français,
  62. (1988). The world's longest continued series of sea level observations.
  63. (2008). Tide gauge datum continuity at Brest since 1711: France's longest sea-level record.
  64. (2009). Timing and magnitude of recent accelerated sea-level rise (North Carolina, United States).
  65. (2007). Tomasin A
  66. (2008). Trois cents ans de mesures marégraphiques en France: outils, méthodes et tendances des composantes du niveau de la mer au port de Brest, PhD thesis,
  67. (2000). Troshkov GA, Trubitsina AA
  68. (2010). Twentieth century constraints on sea level change and earthquake deformation at Macquarie Island.
  69. (2005). Ullmann A doi
  70. (2008). Weather regimes and sea surge variations over the Gulf of Lions (French Mediterranean coast) during the 20th century.
  71. Wöppelmann G (2010b) The gyre-scale circulation of the North Atlantic and sea level at Brest.

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.