European needs for adaptation to changing sea level

The white paper Sea level related adaptation needs in Europe addresses the knowledge gaps related to European research and governance facing future changes in the sea level. The paper, published by the European Climate Research Alliance, concludes that more research is needed concerning methods to assess the effects of climate change and establish sea level confidence thresholds for future change scenarios. Further it is needed to create and implement adaptation strategies to face future impact of the most drastic sea level rise scenarios, particularly those associated with low-probability, but with high-impact changes. In order to achieve any successful adaptation measures, scientists, coastal engineers, and planners, as well as representatives from governing bodies need opportunities to work closely together towards viable solutions.

The reports identifies key questions that needs to be solved:

  • How can coastal sea level projections be improved, at global, regional and local scales?
  • How can coastal impact assessment, adaptation, and risk management be enhanced?
  • How do we best achieve a common understanding of the science and risks amongst stakeholders, policy makers and scientists?

The first question involves long-term mean sea level change and changes in extremes, treatment of uncertainties and likelihood, and modeling capabilities in general. The second question is about adaptation needs and opportunities, and involves challenges due to fundamental geographical and physical differences between Europe’s different ocean and coastal domains, different building practices and infrastructure, and the various governance policy practices in different countries. Is it possible to take a uniform approach in handling impact and adaptation assessments in Europe? The third question is perhaps the most pertinent challenge related to a proper and secure funding for collaborative research on sea level, impact, and risks ahead.

The white paper is a result of the European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA) workshop on Sea Level Change and Coastal Impacts was held in Bergen in June 2016. The workshop was hosted by the Nansen and Bjerknes Centers under the ECRA Collaborative Programme on sea level and climate change, led by Jan Even Øie Nilsen (NERSC, Norway) and Gianmaria Sannino (ENEA, Italy). This white paper will be the base for the upcoming ECRA strategy to further establish a research plan, and will be of interest to both funding agencies and governments.

Citation: J.E.Ø. Nilsen and G. Sannino (originators), M. Bordbar, A.R. Carrasco, S. Dangendorf, I.D. Haigh, J. Hinkel, H. Haarstad, J.A. Johannessen, K.S. Madsen, R.E.M. Riva, T. Schmith, M.J.R. Simpson, A. Slangen, T. Wahl, K. Woth (2016): White Paper: Sea level related adaptation needs in Europe. European Climate Research Alliance (ECRA), Collaborative Programme: Sea Level Change and Coastal Impacts (CP SLC). V1.0, 5. December 2016.

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