23 June 2017

Conference on Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts in New York

Global conference on sea level co-organised by IMAU researcher Roderik van de Wal

The conference on Regional Sea Level Changes and Coastal Impacts will take place in New York from 10 to 14 July. Roderik van de Wal, Associate Professor at the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU) is one of the organisers. The conference will deal with interactions between rising temperatures, associated rising sea level, coastal impacts and adaptation scenarios.

New research into the complex interactions of climate change and sea level rise that will address challenges in describing and predicting regional coastal sea level changes, will be evaluated at the international scientific gathering at Columbia University. The conference aims for close interaction with relevant coastal stakeholders to make sure that the results effectively support impact and adaptation efforts and a wider coastal zone development and management.

“A major outcome from the conference will be an evaluation of the current state of sea level science, an outline of future research requirements for improving our understanding of sea level rise and variability and a description of the observational requirements,” said Robert Nicholls (Southampton University), Detlef Stammer (Hamburg University) and Roderik van de Wal (Utrecht University), co-chairs of the conference.

The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts

Scientific issues

The Sea Level 2017 Conference aims to identify the key factors contributing to past, present and future regional sea level rise and variability, and to focus on reducing the uncertainties of these factors. Additional goals are to identify stakeholder needs for sea-level information for coastal planning and management purposes and to define the requirements for new and augmented research, technical development and observations consistent with the above.

Specific scientific issues to be addressed will include the effects of a warming ocean and melting ice sheets on future regional sea level change, the respective contributions to coastal sea level increase, and the impact of sea level rise on the coastal environment and coastal communities. Thereby the conference will provide agenda-setting information on expected and high-end coastal sea level change required by coastal communities for adaptation and planning purposes.

Global warming

“Since the mid-20th century sea level has been rising as a consequence of global warming caused mainly by human emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. The more we disrupt our climate, the more we risk severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts, in particular linked to heat waves, water availability, and sea level rise,” says Guy Brasseur, chair of WCRP’s joint scientific steering committee.

Scientists and public

The conference will bring together more than 300 scientists from around the world. It is organized by the World Climate Research Programme’s (WCRP) Core Project on Climate and Ocean – CLIVAR and by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). On Wednesday evening a public event will give citizens from New York and around the world the opportunity to get answers to their questions about climate and sea level changes.