Comparison of results from several AOGCMs for global and regional sea-level change 1900-2100

Sea-level rise is an important aspect of climate change because of its impact on society and ecosystems. Here we present an intercomparison of results from ten coupled atmosphere-ocean general circulation models (AOGCMs) for sea-level changes simulated for the twentieth century and projected to occur during the twenty first century in experiments following scenario IS92a for greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols. The model results suggest that the rate of sea-level rise due to thermal expansion of sea water has increased during the twentieth century, but the small set of tide gauges with long records might not be adequate to detect this acceleration. The rate of sea-level rise due to thermal expansion continues to increase throughout the twenty first century, and the projected total is consequently larger than in the twentieth century; for 1990-2090 it amounts to 0.20-0.37 m. This wide range results from systematic uncertainty in modelling of climate change and of heat uptake by the ocean. The AOGCMs agree that sea-level rise is expected to be geographically non-uniform, with some regions experiencing as much as twice the global average, and others practically zero, but they do not agree about the geographical pattern. The lack of agreement indicates that we cannot currently have confidence in projections of local sea-level changes, and reveals a need for detailed analysis and intercomparison in order to understand and reduce the disagreements.
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Climate Dynamics
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