New research synthesis supported by NOAA’s Climate Program Office has been published in Current Climate Change Reports. The paper by Kopp et al., “Geographic Variability of Sea-Level Change” summarizes the myriad components and processes of the earth system – both geological and climatological – that contribute to regional relative sea level.
The paper confronts the persistent disciplinary gap in sea level research between the dynamical climate modeling community and the geology community. While these communities have historically modeled their respective processes separately and then merged them, Kopp et al. highlight the need for these communities to work together to understand the interactions between key processes in order to refine the ability of models to represent regional changes to relative sea level.
Local sea-level changes differ significantly from global-mean sea-level change as a result of (1) non-climatic, geological background processes; (2) atmosphere/ocean dynamics; and (3) the gravitational, elastic, and rotational “fingerprint” effects of ice and ocean mass redistribution. Though the research communities working on these different effects each have a long history, the integration of all these different processes into interpretations of past changes and projections of future change is an active area of research. Fully characterizing the past contributions of these processes requires information from sources covering a range of timescales, including geological proxies, tide-gauge observations from the last ~3 centuries, and satellite-altimetry data from the last ~2 decades. Local sea-level rise projections must account for the different spatial patterns of different processes, as well as potential correlations between different drivers
To access a copy of the paper, which was published online on July 1, visit: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s40641-015-0015-5