Antarctic Ice Sheet and emission scenario controls on 21st-century extreme sea-level changes

Thomas Frederikse, Maya K. Buchanan, Erwin Lambert, Robert E. Kopp, Michael Oppenheimer, D. J. Rasmussen, Roderik S.W.van de Wal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Uncertainties in Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) scenarios and Antarctic Ice Sheet (AIS) melt propagate into uncertainties in projected mean sea-level (MSL) changes and extreme sea-level (ESL) events. Here we quantify the impact of RCP scenarios and AIS contributions on 21st-century ESL changes at tide-gauge sites across the globe using extreme-value statistics. We find that even under RCP2.6, almost half of the sites could be exposed annually to a present-day 100-year ESL event by 2050. Most tropical sites face large increases in ESL events earlier and for scenarios with smaller MSL changes than extratropical sites. Strong emission reductions lower the probability of large ESL changes but due to AIS uncertainties, cannot fully eliminate the probability that large increases in frequencies of ESL events will occur. Under RCP8.5 and rapid AIS mass loss, many tropical sites, including low-lying islands face a MSL rise by 2100 that exceeds the present-day 100-year event level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number390
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Physics and Astronomy
  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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