Acceleration of U.S. Southeast and Gulf coast sea-level rise amplified by internal climate variability

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Abstract

While there is evidence for an acceleration in global mean sea level (MSL) since the 1960s, its detection at local levels has been hampered by the considerable influence of natural variability on the rate of MSL change. Here we report a MSL acceleration in tide gauge records along the U.S. Southeast and Gulf coasts that has led to rates (>10 mm yr−1 since 2010) that are unprecedented in at least 120 years. We show that this acceleration is primarily induced by an ocean dynamic signal exceeding the externally forced response from historical climate model simulations. However, when the simulated forced response is removed from observations, the residuals are neither historically unprecedented nor inconsistent with internal variability in simulations. A large fraction of the residuals is consistent with wind driven Rossby waves in the tropical North Atlantic. This indicates that this ongoing acceleration represents the compounding effects of external forcing and internal climate variability.

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Dangendorf, S., Hendricks, N., Sun, Q., Klinck, J., Ezer, T., Frederikse, T., … Törnqvist, T. E. (2023). Acceleration of U.S. Southeast and Gulf coast sea-level rise amplified by internal climate variability. Nature Communications, 14(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-37649-9

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