Understanding Sea-level Rise and Variability / Edition 1

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Understanding Sea-Level Rise and Variability identifies the major impacts of sea-level rise, presents up-to-date assessments of past sea-level change, thoroughly explores all of the factors contributing to sea-level rise, and explores how sea-level extreme events might change. It identifies what is known in each area and what research and observations are required to reduce the uncertainties in our understanding of sea-level rise so that more reliable future projections can be made. A synthesis of findings provides a concise summary of past, present and future sea-level rise and its impacts on society.

Key Features:

  • Book includes contributions from a range of international sea level experts
  • Multidisciplinary
  • Four color throughout
  • Describes the limits of our understanding of this crucial issue as well as pointing to directions for future research

The book is for everyone interested in sea-level rise and its impacts, including policy makers, research funders, scientists, students, coastal managers and engineers.

Additional resources for this book can be found at: http://www.wiley.com/go/church/sealevel.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The book is written in an elegant and inviting writing style. The book is quite thoroughly searched. It is also open and honest about uncertainty. Understanding Sea-level Rise and Variability is full of information, cases and methodologies. The book is for everyone interested in sea-level rise and its impacts, including policy makers, engineers, researchers, university teachers and students.”  (International Journal of Climate Change
Strategies and Management
, 1 January 2013)

“In summary, then, this book provides a synthesis of findings regarding sea level rise and its impacts on society.  It should be on the desk of everyone concerned about sea level rise and its impacts, not only geoscientists and their research funders, but also policymakers and coastal managers.”  (Geology Today, 1 September 2012)

"In deciphering the many questions regarding the roles of isostacy, tectonics and neotectonics in sea level change, this excellently and vividly illustrated book shows that geoscientists have much to add to the debate, especially given their knowledge of the effects of sea level change in deep time. Each chapter is written by a panel of authorities on its topic. The result is a book with much to interest and intrigue geoscientists, coastal engineers and others concerned about modern-day sea level change, and a timely summary given the situation now facing many lowland areas…It should be on the desk of everyone concerned about sea level rise and its impacts, including not only geoscientists and their research funders, but also policymakers and coastal managers." (Geology Today, July 2012)

“Having a structured and insightful book such as this text to back up and illustrate the present findings of sea level rise to spectators at a non-scientific conference is helpful...In little more than a dozen chapters, the editors explore and present a comprehensive outlook of the factors contributing to sea level rise and how that relates to probable extreme events in the near future. It also defines the strong and weak points in the present research and makes observations to reduce the uncertainties in the global understanding of sea level rise. The book is for students, scientists, educators on climate change, coastal managers, developers, engineers, and legislators. It is not only for people interested in the subject to better plan for the future, especially around coastal zones, but for those honestly concerned about the social impact of sea level rise and the future shape of humanity in the remaining of the 21st century." (Bulletin of Marine Science, June 2012)

“This excellent volume concludes with a chapter synthesising sea-level rise and variability and considering the future outlook for the subject. . . It will indeed make a valuable addition to the bookshelf of anyone interested in sea-level rise and its impacts." (The Holocene, 21(7) 1173-1176, 28 September 2011)

“The book is generally of a high quality and well presented with few weak papers." (Ocean Challenge, Vol. 18, Number: 3, July 2011)

“It's a very comprehensive and important aide to understanding a globally vital subject." (Baird Maritime, 3 February 2012)

“The book is intellectually rigorous and is open and honest about uncertainty. Its recommendations for the future research agenda are refreshing and it has signposted the way forward." (Quaternary Science Reviews, 2011)

"In summary, I strongly recommend this book because of its thorough and exhaustive discussion on all aspects of sea-level rise due to climate change. Virtually every researcher and student of earth system can find something in it that links his/her field of interest to the broad canvas of research on sea-level rise. There is useful material in it too for the policymaker concerned with management of coastlines and islands to confront the sea-level rise. " (India Current Science, Vol. 101, No. 5, September 2011)

"The editors of this fine book, themselves leading sea-level researchers, have assembled a galaxy of contributing authors to provide a comprehensive and insightful understanding of sea-level rise and variability. The 13 chapters cover all aspects of the topic in considerable detail, and together comprise a reference volume/monograph of sea-level knowledge of great value to the global sea-level community." (African Journal of Marine Science, 2011)

“…for the sea-level specialist it is a comprehensive and beautifully presented book." (Australian Archaeology, 1 June 2011)

“The book certainly made for an enjoyable and educational read; as could be expected, I found especially rewarding the chapters outside my own professional comfort zone. We need to be talking more." (Limnology and Oceanography Bulletin, 2011)

"This book explains the lot. It's not escapist fare but it's crystal clear." (The Australian, 26 November 2010)

"This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in coastal science and engineering and sea level history, as well as for anyone seeking documentation for global change. It would make an excellent text for a graduate-level course or seminar."(EOS, Vol. 92, No. 18, 3 May 2011)

"....a reliable and definitive contribution to the literature on this sometimes controversial subject." (Terra et Aqua, Number 123, June 2011)

"....condenses a vast amount of information into one book" (Oceanography, Vol.24, No.2)

“…nicely summarises the state of knowledge to date in clear language that communicates well to the lay person, as well as to the technical specialist interested in navigation design or operational details related to sea level.” (The World Association for Waterborne Transportation – PIANC E- Newsletter, December 2010)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781444334524
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/28/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 456
  • Sales rank: 1,307,050
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

John Church is an oceanographer with the Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre. He was co-convening lead author for the chapter on sea level in the IPCC Third Assessment Report. He was awarded the 2006 Roger Revelle Medal by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, a CSIRO Medal for Research Achievement in 2006, and the 2007 Eureka Prize for Scientific Research.

Philip Woodworth works at the Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory in Liverpool. He is a former Director of the Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (PSMSL) and Chairman of Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS). He has been a lead or contributing author for each of the IPCC Research Assessments. He was awarded the Denny Medal of IMAREST in 2009 for innovation in sea-level technology and the Vening Meinesz Medal of the European Geosciences Union in 2010 for work in geodesy.

Thorkild Aarup is Senior Program Specialist with the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO and serves as technical secretary for the Global Sea Level Observing System (GLOSS) program. He has a PhD in oceanography from the University of Copenhagen.

Stan Wilson has managed programs during his career, first at the Office of Naval Research where he led the Navy’s basic research program in physical oceanography, then at NASA Headquarters where he established the Oceanography from Space program, and finally at NOAA where he helped organize the 20-country coalition in support of the Argo Program of profiling floats. Currently the Senior Scientist for NOAA’s Satellite & Information Service, he is helping transition Jason satellite altimetry from research into a capability to be sustained by the operational agencies NOAA and EUMETSAT.
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Table of Contents

Editor Biographies.

List of Contributors.



Abbreviations and Acronyms.

1. Introduction: Philip L. Woodworth (Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory), John A. Church (Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research), Thorkild Aarup (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), and W. Stanley Wilson (NOAA Satellite & Information Service).


2. Impacts of and Responses to Sea-Level Rise: Robert J. Nicholls (University of Southampton).

2.1 Introduction.

2.2 Climate Change and Global/Relative Sea-Level Rise.

2.3 Sea-Level Rise and Resulting Impacts.

2.4 Framework and Methods for the Analysis of Sea-Level-Rise Impacts.

2.5 Recent Impacts of Sea-Level Rise.

2.6 Future Impacts of Sea-Level Rise.

2.7 Responding to Sea-Level Rise.

2.8 Next Steps.

2.9 Concluding Remarks.



3. A First-Order Assessment of the Impact of Long-Term Trends in Extreme Sea Levels on Offshore Structures and Coastal Refineries: Ralph Rayner (Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology) and Bev MacKenzie (Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology).

3.1 Introduction.

3.2 Design Considerations.

3.3 Impact of Long-Term Trends in Extreme Sea Levels.

3.4 Evaluating the Economic Impact.

3.5 Conclusions.


4. Paleoenvironmental Records, Geophysical Modeling, and Reconstruction of Sea-Level Trends and Variability on Centennial and Longer Timescales: Kurt Lambeck (Australian National University), Colin D. Woodroffe (University of Wollongong), Fabrizio Antonioli (Ente per le Nuove Tecnologie, l'Energia e l'Ambiente, Rome), Marco Anzidei (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Rome), W. Roland Gehrels (University of Plymouth), Jacques Laborel (Université de la Méditerranée Aix-Marseille II), and Alex J. Wright (Vrije Universiteit).

4.1 Introduction.

4.2 Past Sea-Level Changes.

4.3 Sea-Level Indicators.

4.4 Geophysical Modeling of Variability in Relative Sea-Level History.

4.5 Regional Case Studies.

4.6 Discussion and Conclusions.



5. Modern Sea-Level-Change Estimates: Gary T. Mitchum (University of South Florida), R. Steven Nerem (University of Colorado), Mark A. Merrifield (University of Hawai’i), and W. Roland Gehrels (University of Plymouth).

5.1 Introduction.

5.2 Estimates from Proxy Sea-Level Records.

5.3 Estimates of Global Sea-Level Change from Tide Gauges.

5.4 Estimates of Global Sea-Level Change from Satellite Altimetry.

5.5 Recommendations.



6. Ocean Temperature and Salinity Contributions to Global and Regional Sea-Level Change: John A. Church(Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research), Dean Roemmich (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Catia M. Domingues (Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research), Josh K. Willis (California Institute of Technology), Neil J. White (Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research), John E. Gilson (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Detlef Stammer (University of Hamburg), Armin Köhl (Institut für Meereskunde), Don P. Chambers (University of South Florida), Felix W. Landerer (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena), Jochem Marotzke (Max Planck Institute for Meteorology), Jonathan M. Gregory (University of Reading), Tatsuo Suzuki (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology), Anny Cazenave (Laboratoire d'Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie), and Pierre-Yves Le Traon (IFREMER).

6.1 Introduction.

6.2 Direct Estimates of Steric Sea-Level Rise.

6.3 Estimating Steric Sea-Level Change Using Ocean Syntheses.

6.4 Inferring Steric Sea Level from Time-Variable Gravity and Sea Level.

6.5 Modeling Steric Sea-Level Rise.

6.6 Conclusions and Recommendations.



7. Cryospheric Contributions to Sea-Level Rise and Variability: Konrad Steffen (University of Colorado), Robert H. Thomas (NASA/GSFC/Wallops Flight Facility), Eric Rignot (California Institute of Technology), J. Graham Cogley (Trent University), Mark B. Dyurgerov (deceased), Sarah C.B. Raper (Manchester Metropolitan University), Philippe Huybrechts (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), and Edward Hanna (University of Sheffield).

7.1 Introduction.

7.2 Mass-Balance Techniques.

7.3 Ice-Sheet Mass Balance.

7.4 Mass Balance of Glaciers and Ice Caps.

7.5 Glacier, Ice-Cap, and Ice-Sheet Modeling.

7.6 Summary and Recommendations.


8. Terrestrial Water-Storage Contributions to Sea-Level Rise and Variability: P.C.D. (Chris) Milly (US Geological Survey), Anny Cazenave (Laboratoire d'Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie), James S. Famiglietti (University of California, Irvine), Vivien Gornitz (NASA/GISS and Columbia University), Katia Laval (Laboratoire de Météorologie Dynamique), Dennis P. Lettenmaier (University of Washington), Dork L. Sahagian (Lehigh University), John M. Wahr (University of Colorado), and Clark R. Wilson (University of Texas).

8.1 Introduction.

8.2 Analysis Tools.

8.3 Climate-Driven Changes of Terrestrial Water Storage.

8.4 Direct Anthropogenic Changes of Terrestrial Water Storage.

8.5 Synthesis.

8.6 Recommendations.


9. Geodetic Observations and Global Reference Frame Contributions to Understanding Sea-Level Rise and Variability: Geoff Blewitt (University of Nevada), Zuheir Altamimi (Institut Géographique National), James Davis (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics), Richard Gross (California Institute of Technology), Chung-Yen Kuo (National Cheng Kung University), Frank G. Lemoine (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Angelyn W. Moore (California Institute of Technology), Ruth E. Neilan (California Institute of Technology), Hans-Peter Plag (University of Nevada), Markus Rothacher (GeoForschungsZentrum), C.K. Shum (Ohio State University), Michael G. Sideris (University of Calgary), Tilo Schöne (GeoForschungsZentrum), Paul Tregoning (Australian National University), and Susanna Zerbini (University of Bologna).

9.1 Introduction.

9.2 Global and Regional Reference Systems.

9.3 Linking GPS to Tide Gauges and Tide-Gauge Benchmarks.

9.4 Recommendations for Geodetic Observations.



10. Surface Mass Loading on a Dynamic Earth: Complexity and Contamination in the Geodetic Analysis of Global Sea-Level Trends: Jerry X. Mitrovica (Harvard University), Mark E. Tamisiea (Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory), Erik R. Ivins (California Institute of Technology), L.L.A. (Bert) Vermeersen (Delft University of Technology), Glenn A. Milne (Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa), and Kurt Lambeck (Australian National University).

10.1 Introduction.

10.2 Glacial Isostatic Adjustment.

10.3 Sea Level, Sea Surface, and the Geoid.

10.4 Rapid Melting and Sea-Level Fingerprints.

10.5 Great Earthquakes.

10.6 Final Remarks.



11. Past and Future Changes in Extreme Sea Levels and Waves: Jason A. Lowe (Met Office), Philip L. Woodworth(Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory), Tom Knutson (Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory), Ruth E. McDonald (Met Office), Kathleen L. McInnes (CSIRO), Katja Woth (GKSS), Hans von Storch (GKSS), Judith Wolf (Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory), Val Swail (Environment Canada), Natacha B. Bernier (Dalhousie University), Sergey Gulev (P.P. Shirshov Institute of Oceanology), Kevin J. Horsburgh (Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory), Alakkat S. Unnikrishnan (National Institute of Oceanography), John R. Hunter (Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre), and Ralf Weisse (GKSS).

11.1 Introduction.

11.2 Evidence for Changes in Extreme Sea Levels and Waves in the Recent Past.

11.3 Mid-Latitude and Tropical Storms: Changes in the Atmospheric Drivers of Extreme Sea Level.

11.4 Future Extreme Water Levels.

11.5 Future Research Needs.

11.6 Conclusions.



12. Observing Systems Needed to Address Sea-Level Rise and Variability: W. Stanley Wilson(NOAA Satellite & Information Service), Waleed Abdalati (University of Colorado), Douglas Alsdorf (Ohio State University), Jérôme Benveniste (European Space Agency), Hans Bonekamp (European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites), J. Graham Cogley (Trent University), Mark R. Drinkwater (European Space Agency), Lee-Lueng Fu (Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena), Richard Gross (California Institute of Technology), Bruce J. Haines (California Institute of Technology), D.E. Harrison (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory), Gregory C. Johnson (Pacific Marine & Environmental Laboratory), Michael Johnson (retired), John L. LaBrecque (NASA), Eric J. Lindstrom (NASA), Mark A. Merrifield (University of Hawai’i), Laury Miller (NOAA Laboratory for Satellite Altimetry), Erricos C. Pavlis (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center), Stephen Piotrowicz (NOAA), Dean Roemmich (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Detlef Stammer (University of Hamburg), Robert H. Thomas (NASA/GSFC/Wallops Flight Facility), Eric Thouvenot (CNES), and Philip L. Woodworth (Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory).

12.1 Introduction.

12.2 Sustained, Systematic Observing Systems (Existing Capabilities).

12.3 Development of Improved Observing Systems (New Capabilities).

12.4 Summary.


13. Sea-Level Rise and Variability: Synthesis and Outlook for the Future: John A. Church (Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research), Thorkild Aarup (Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), Philip L. Woodworth (Prouvédman Oceanographic Laboratory), W. Stanley Wilson (NOAA Satellite & Information Service), Robert J. Nicholls (University of Southampton), Ralph Rayner (Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology), Kurt Lambeck (Australian National University), Gary T. Mitchum (University of South Florida), Konrad Steffen (University of Colorado), Anny Cazenave (Laboratoire d'Etudes en Géophysique et Océanographie), Geoff Blewitt (University of Nevada), Jerry X. Mitrovica (Harvard University), and Jason A. Lowe (Met Office).

13.1 Historical Sea-Level Change.

13.2 Why is Sea Level Rising?.

13.3 The Regional Distribution of Sea-Level Rise.

13.4 Projections of Sea-Level Rise for the 21st Century and Beyond.

13.5 Changes in Extreme Events.

13.6 Sea Level and Society.



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