Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise


The Sea Level Rise Knowledge Hub (KH SLR) is a joint effort by JPI Climate Action Group Next Generation of Climate Sciences in Europe & JPI Oceans with the support of SINCERE, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), Deltares, and CNRM Météo-France.

The Boards of JPI Climate and JPI Oceans approved the Terms of Reference late 2019, kickstarting the preparatory phase where structures are formally established and activities are implemented. Meetings with interested funding organizations and ministries were held in April and June 2020, consolidating support from several JPI Climate and JPI Oceans Member States. In November 2020, the Boards approved the Roadmap for the first phase of implementation of the KH SLR, leading to a large expert scoping conference to be held in early 2022, and the Governance Structure of the KH SLR.

The Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise focuses on regional to local sea level changes in Europe and the needs and involvement of policy making and coastal planning. It aims to provide a networking platform to promote exchange, synthesis, integration and generation of knowledge on regional and global, historic and future sea level rise to support development and implementation of related policies at local, national and European level. The platform will facilitate the interaction between research and policy professionals with different disciplinary backgrounds and expertise by assessing and communicating recent scientific and socio-economic developments at an aggregation level adjusted to ongoing themes and debates in policy and public arenas. 

Even the low-end values of sea level rise predictions are expected to affect the livelihoods of residents of the ever-growing coastal populations worldwide and will potentially lead to mass resettlement and migration. Besides the most evident phenomenon of permanent inundation of low-elevation areas, various other pressing issues arise. Coastal flooding and erosion, saltwater intrusion into groundwater and agricultural soils, and an increased inland penetration of tropical storm surges are some of the highlighted hazards. Further monitoring of current sea level rise and its drivers, developing model projections and supporting coastal defense strategies are thus of great importance.

By addressing scientific knowledge gaps and exchanging information between the involved disciplines (e.g. ocean and climate sciences, as well as social sciences) the Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise can enable policy makers to make well-informed decisions regarding protective and adaptive measures. Providing more frequent, detailed and regional-scaled assessments of sea level change might facilitate national policy-making. A cooperative and interdisciplinary approach is envisaged to transfer knowledge and expertise among European member states in order to come up with solutions to this global challenge and its regional to local specifics.  

Envisioned Outcomes
The long-term ambition of the Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise is to provide periodic assessments of knowledge on sea level rise drivers, impacts and policy options for each of the major ocean basins around Europe. The ambition is to provide easy access to usable knowledge on regional-local sea level change in Europe, regularly updated as a series of periodic assessments. It will complement existing global and European assessments by providing additional geographical and contextual detail, tailored to regional, national and European policy development and implementation.

Background - Global changes
Global sea level rise is expected to be among the most costly and irreversible consequences of climate change. Since 1900, the global mean sea level has risen by approximately 20 cm  and it is continuously rising at increasing rates of currently more than 3 mm per year, associated with anthropogenic climate change. Publications from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), such as the Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate (SROCC), have strengthened the evidence for a predominant role of anthropogenic climate change in the observed global mean sea level rise and in the acceleration over recent decades. Current global sea level rise projections for the end of the 21st century vary between 40 cm and 2.5 m. This broad projection range results from uncertainties regarding the future greenhouse gas emissions, thermal expansion, melting of ice sheets and glaciers, and isostatic adjustments.
Background - Regional to local sea level changes
Absolute sea levels have risen in all coastal regions in Europe, with significant regional variation. Relative to land, the sea level rise along most European coasts is predicted to be similar to the global projections. Countries that are experiencing considerable land rise due to post-glacial rebound (e.g. along the northern Baltic Sea and the northern Atlantic coast), are an exception to this rule. Increases in local relative mean sea levels and meteorologically driven surge components are projected to result in extreme high coastal water levels in most locations. Coastal flood damage in Europe is likely to increase substantially in the absence of adaptation measures.
  • Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise - Governance Structure
  • A workshop on the operationalisation of the Knowledge Hub on Sea Level Rise was held as a video conference on 22-23 April 2020. The first day, which was open to external experts, convened more than 70 participants from 15 European countries. Participation on the second day, which was focused on operational discussions and restricted to the JPI Oceans and JPI Climate members, and the respective funding authorities, saw the active involvement of  44 representatives from 15 countries. More about the workshop here.
  • "Scoping Workshop - Assessing local impacts of sea-level rise at the shore for mitigation and adaptation" that was organized on 18 and 19 March 2019 in Brussels.