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Sea level rise

Indicator Specificationexpired Created 11 Jul 2008 Published 08 Sep 2008 Last modified 11 Sep 2015, 12:30 PM
Note: new version is available!
This content has been archived on 28 Jul 2014, reason: Other (New version data-and-maps/indicators/sea-level-rise-3 was published)
Indicator codes: CSI 047 , CLIM 012

Update planned for November 2012

Assessment versions

Published (reviewed and quality assured)
  • No published assessments


Justification for indicator selection

Sea-level rise (SLR) results from thermal expansion of the oceans (the increase in volume due to rising ocean water temperature) and increased inflow of melt-water from glaciers and ice-sheets (in particular the Greenland and west Antarctic ice sheets). Thus it is an important indicator of climate change, with great relevance in Europe for flooding, coastal erosion and the loss of flat coastal regions. Rising sea levels increase the likelihood of storm surges, enforce landward intrusion of salt water and endanger coastal ecosystems and wetlands. Coastal areas in Europe often contain important natural ecosystems, productive economic sectors, and major urban centres. A higher flood risk increases the threat of loss of life and property as well as damage to sea-dikes and infrastructure, and could lead to an increased loss of tourism, recreation and transportation functions (Nicholls and Tol, 2006; Nicholls et al., 2007; Devoy, 2008). Low-lying coastlines with high population densities and small tidal ranges will be most vulnerable to SLR (Kundzewicz, 2001). Thus coastal flooding related to SLR could affect a large population (Arnell, 2004; Nicholls, 2004). Because of the slow reaction of the climate system, climate change mitigation will not reduce these risks over the coming decades to any significant degree, but various options for adaptation exist.

Scientific references

  • No rationale references available

Indicator definition

  • Sea-level change at different European tide-gauge stations 1896-2004
  • Changes in global sea level 1870-2006
  • Sea-level changes in Europe October 1992-May 2007
  • Projected global average Sea-level rise 1990-2100


Policy context and targets

Context description

In April 2009 the European Commission presented a White Paper on the framework for adaptation policies and measures to reduce the European Union's vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The aim is to increase the resilience to climate change of health, property and the productive functions of land, inter alia by improving the management of water resources and ecosystems. More knowledge is needed on climate impact and vulnerability but a considerable amount of information and research already exists which can be shared better through a proposed Clearing House Mechanism. The White Paper stresses the need to mainstream adaptation into existing and new EU policies. A number of Member States have already taken action and several have prepared national adaptation plans. The EU is also developing actions to enhance and finance adaptation in developing countries as part of a new post-2012 global climate agreement expected in Copenhagen (Dec. 2009). For more information see:


No targets have been specified

Related policy documents

No related policy documents have been specified


Methodology for indicator calculation

Methodology for gap filling

Methodology references

No methodology references available.

Data specifications

EEA data references

  • No datasets have been specified here.

External data references

Data sources in latest figures


Methodology uncertainty

Data sets uncertainty

Rationale uncertainty

No uncertainty has been specified

Further work

Short term work

Work specified here requires to be completed within 1 year from now.

Long term work

Work specified here will require more than 1 year (from now) to be completed.

General metadata

Responsibility and ownership

EEA Contact Info

Hans-Martin Füssel


Joint Research Centre (JRC)


Indicator code
CSI 047
CLIM 012
Version id: 1
Primary theme: Climate change Climate change


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DPSIR: Impact
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
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