Sea level rise is probably one of the biggest threats imposed on us by climate change. Sea level rise is the reason why we study glacier recession. Our current best estimates suggest that we should expect around 60 cm of sea level rise by 2100 AD. Just a small increase in sea level is enough to severely increase the damage done by storm surges. It will worsen coastal erosion, particularly in eastern England, flood low-lying areas in Britain and mean that the Thames Barrier will need to be replaced.
This small increase in sea level rise will come mainly from thermal expansion of the ocean and from contributions from small glaciers and ice caps. There is likely to be only a small contribution from the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets over the coming century. However, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet could rapidly increase sea levels by around three metres.
We need to be able to understand how much sea level will rise over coming centuries. If we know how much sea levels will rise, we will be able to put in place adaptation and mitigation strategies that will avoid the worst of the impacts. This is the focus of most of our research; understanding the relationship between glaciers and climate, and investigating past rates and magnitudes of change. We want to understand the processes by which glaciers, ice caps and ice sheets melt and contribute to sea level rise, and we are always trying to reduce uncertainty in future projections.
This section contains many articles about sea level rise. For more information and for recently published papers, see the blog: