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Is sea level rise accelerating and what are the implications for coastal flooding?

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Sea-level rise is one of the most certain and costliest impacts of climate change. The Paris Agreement committed signatories to ‘Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change’. However, while reducing human emissions of greenhouse gases will stabilise temperature and other climate factors, sea-level rise will continue for many centuries. This is due to the long timescale of cryospheric adjustment to elevated air temperatures (especially the large ice sheets), and the long timescale of the deep ocean temperature warming to surface warming. In this presentation I will describe a novel approach we have developed to project sea-level rise out to 2300 to accurately assess our ‘commitment to sea-level rise’. I will then go on to describe how sea level rise will impact coastal flooding around the UK.

Ivan Haigh is an associated professor in Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton, based at the prestigious National Oceanography Centre, Southampton. He is passionate about all things relating to sea level. Him and his team investigate variations in sea level from time-scales of seconds (waves), to days (tides and storm surges), through to long-term century scale rises in mean sea level, and its impact on the coast.

This talk is part of the Department of Geography - main Departmental seminar series series.

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