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Past and future sea level around the BES islands

D. Le Bars

In this short report I provide an overview of the recent evolution of sea level and the state of the art future projections for the BES islands. Since there are no long tide gauge records available for the BES islands I use data from satellite altimetry available since 1993 to analyse past sea level. I find important month-to-month and year-to-year variability and a linear trend of 3.3 mm/yr at Bonaire and 2.9 mm/yr at Sint Eustatius and Saba which is close to the global sea level of 3.4 mm/yr over the same period. The analysis of the longest tide gauge record of the region starting in 1955, located in Puerto Rico, shows important multi-decadal variability, faster sea level rise measured by the tide gauge than by the satellite altimetry and an acceleration of sea level rise over time. Sea level projections from the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports are between 30 cm and 120 cm in 2100 compared to the reference period 1986-2005. Sea level at the BES islands is expected to rise a little bit faster than globally averaged sea level. Sea level rise will continue after 2100 in all scenarios. However, the ability of global climate models to make reliable sea level projections in the Carribean Sea region has been questioned recently because ocean eddies might be important to set the regional pattern of sea level change. This argument is in line with the different sea level rise pattern observed by satellite altimetry and projected by climate models for the end of the century which is described in this report. I propose possible further research directions to improve the understanding of past sea level changes in the region and improve the reliability of projections.

Bibliografische gegevens

D. Le Bars. Past and future sea level around the BES islands
KNMI number: TR-397, Year: 2022, Pages: 14

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