Model projections of rapid sea-level rise on the northeast coast of the United States

Jianjun Yin, Michael E. Schlesinger, Ronald J. Stouffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

228 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Human-induced climate change could cause global sea-level rise. Through the dynamic adjustment of the sea surface in response to a possible slowdown of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation, a warming climate could also affect regional sea levels, especially in the North Atlantic region, leading to high vulnerability for low-lying Florida and western Europe. Here we analyse climate projections from a set of state-of-the-art climate models for such regional changes, and find a rapid dynamical rise in sea level on the northeast coast of the United States during the twenty-first century. For New York City, the rise due to ocean circulation changes amounts to 15, 20 and 21 cm for scenarios with low, medium and high rates of emissions respectively, at a similar magnitude to expected global thermal expansion. Analysing one of the climate models in detail, we find that a dynamic, regional rise in sea level is induced by a weakening meridional overturning circulation in the Atlantic Ocean, and superimposed on the global mean sea-level rise. We conclude that together, future changes in sea level and ocean circulation will have a greater effect on the heavily populated northeastern United States than estimated previously.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)262-266
Number of pages5
JournalNature Geoscience
Volume2
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2009
Externally publishedYes

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sea level
coast
meridional circulation
climate modeling
thermal expansion
twenty first century
climate
sea surface
vulnerability
warming
climate change
sea level rise
ocean
ocean circulation
rate
city
state of the art
effect
Western Europe

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Model projections of rapid sea-level rise on the northeast coast of the United States. / Yin, Jianjun; Schlesinger, Michael E.; Stouffer, Ronald J.

In: Nature Geoscience, Vol. 2, No. 4, 04.2009, p. 262-266.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Yin, Jianjun ; Schlesinger, Michael E. ; Stouffer, Ronald J. / Model projections of rapid sea-level rise on the northeast coast of the United States. In: Nature Geoscience. 2009 ; Vol. 2, No. 4. pp. 262-266.
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