Observations as Decision Support for Coastal Management in Response to Local Sea Level Changes
Proceedings of OceanObs'09: Sustained Ocean Observations and Information for Society
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
... rent 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.