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Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society

COMMUNITY WHITE PAPER10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.69

Observations as Decision Support for Coastal Management in Response to Local Sea Level Changes

Hans-Peter Plag(1), Jimmy Adegoke(2), Michael Bruno(3), Robert Christian(4), Paul Digiacomo(5), Liana McManus(6), Robert Nicholls(7), Roderik S.W. van de Wal(8)

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Local Sea Level (LSL) rise is among the major anticipated impacts of future global warming. Policy makers face a trade-off between imposing today the very high costs of mitigation, adaptation, and coastal protection upon national economies and leaving the costs of major disasters for future generations. Predictions of future LSL trajectories with reliable estimates of uncertainties are a crucial input to risk and vulnerability assessments in support of informed decisions. Current aleatory uncertainties in observations related to past and current LSL variations combined with epistemic uncertainties in some of the global, regional and local processes forcing LSL changes produce a large range of plausible future LSL trajectories and weak estimates of uncertainties. Thus, scientific support for policy makers aiming at reasonable coastal zone policies and mitigation and adaptation strategies is limited. Additional spaceborne and in situ observations are needed in order to improve decision support by reducing the uncertainties in LSL predictions through better estimates of current trends and improved predictive capabilities of relevant models. However, long-term predictions will remain to be associated with large uncertainties, and decision support will mainly come from comprehensive monitoring of all forcing processes of LSL changes and a forecasting of LSL on decadal time scales.

1Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology University of Nevada, Mail Stop 178 89557 Reno NV 89557, USA
2University of Missouri-Kansas City, 5010 Rockhill Rd, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA
3Stevens Institute of Technology, Castle Point on Hudson, Hoboken NJ 07030-5991 USA
4Global Terrestrial Observing System/Biology Department, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27858, USA
5National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Science Center, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746, USA
6Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, University of Miami, 4600 Rickenbacker Causeway, Miami, Florida, 33149, USA
7School of Civil Engineering and the Environment, University of Southampton, Highfield Southampton SO14 3ZH, United Kingdom
8Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht, Utrecht University, Princetonplein 5, 3584 CC Utrecht, The Netherlands

Correspondence should be addressed to E-mail: hpplag@unr.edu

This paper shall be cited as:

Plag, H. & Co-Authors (2010). "Observations as Decision Support for Coastal Management in Response to Local Sea Level Changes " in Proceedings of OceanObs’09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society (Vol. 2), Venice, Italy, 21-25 September 2009, Hall, J., Harrison, D.E. & Stammer, D., Eds., ESA Publication WPP-306, doi:10.5270/OceanObs09.cwp.69

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