Committed sea-level rise under the Paris Agreement and the legacy of delayed mitigation action

Last modified: 
April 4, 2018 - 1:01pm
Type: Journal Article
Year of publication: 2018
Date published: 02/2018
Authors: Matthias Mengel, Alexander Nauels, Joeri Rogelj, Carl-Friedrich Schleussner
Journal title: Nature Communications
Volume: 9
Issue: 1

Sea-level rise is a major consequence of climate change that will continue long after emissions of greenhouse gases have stopped. The 2015 Paris Agreement aims at reducing climate-related risks by reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero and limiting global-mean temperature increase. Here we quantify the effect of these constraints on global sea-level rise until 2300, including Antarctic ice-sheet instabilities. We estimate median sea-level rise between 0.7 and 1.2 m, if net-zero greenhouse gas emissions are sustained until 2300, varying with the pathway of emissions during this century. Temperature stabilization below 2 °C is insufficient to hold median sea-level rise until 2300 below 1.5 m. We find that each 5-year delay in near-term peaking of CO2 emissions increases median year 2300 sea-level rise estimates by ca. 0.2 m, and extreme sea-level rise estimates at the 95th percentile by up to 1 m. Our results underline the importance of near-term mitigation action for limiting long-term sea-level rise risks.

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