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Maritime Forum

Map of the Week – Sea Level Rise

The Map of the Week shows global mean sea level regional trend over the period 1993-2019.


On Monday 28 February, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its report on ‘Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability’. A total of 270 authors from 67 countries have worked together on this report. This IPCC Working Group II report is the second instalment of the IPCC’s Sixth Assessment Report (AR6), which will be completed later this year. The Working Group I report on the physical science basis of climate change was released on 9 August 2021. The Working Group III report on mitigation of climate change is expected to be published in April 2022.

During the press conference, IPCC Working Group II Co-Chairs Debra Roberts and Hans-Otto Pörtner presented key findings on climate change risks and effective options for climate change adaptation. Among other key points, they explained that nature provides important potential to reduce climate risks but, as temperatures increase, this potential is expected to decline. They thus pointed out that it is essential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to accelerate adaptation to climate change and to monitor progress. World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas also underlined the importance of investing in climate change adaptation, specifying the attention that should be given to observation systems and early warning services.[1] Experts also called our attention to the impacts of maladaptation. [2] The press release indicates that there is increasing evidence of adaptation that has caused unintended consequences, for example destroying nature, putting peoples’ lives at risk or increasing greenhouse gas emissions. This can be avoided by involving everyone in planning, attention to equity and justice, and drawing on Indigenous and local knowledge. Chapter 3 of the report specifically addresses ‘Oceans and Coastal Ecosystems and their Services’. In addition to the Summary for Policy Makers and the Technical report, the IPCC published a Global to Regional Atlas and a series of factsheets including factsheets on small islands, biodiversity (comprising information on sea level rise and marine heatwaves) and human settlements (comprising information on coastal cities).

During the press conference, IPCC Working Group II Co-Chair Debra Roberts underlined the risks faced by coastal cities due to sea level rise. The fact sheet on human settlements states that the population at risk in coastal cities and settlements to a 100-year coastal flood increases by ~20% if global mean sea level rises by 0.15 m relative to current levels, doubles at 0.75 m, and triples at 1.4 m, assuming present-day population and protection height. Explore the Map of the Week to learn how sea level has changed since 1993. Sea level is rising as a result of ocean heating and land ice -mass loss. This can seriously affect human populations in coastal and island regions as well as natural environments such as marine ecosystems. Average global sea level has risen by more than 8 cm since the early 1990’s and it continues to rise at a rate of 3.3 mm each year. New calculations reveal that global mean sea level rise is accelerating. Sea levels do not rise homogeneously and thus some regions are more threatened than others.

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The data in this map are provided by Copernicus Marine Service.