Sea level rise
Published (reviewed and quality assured)
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.
- No rationale references available
- 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
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: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/climat/adaptation/index_en.htm
No targets have been specified
Related policy documents
No related policy documents have been specified
Methodology for indicator calculation
Methodology for gap filling
No methodology references available.
EEA data references
- No datasets have been specified here.
External data references
- Changes in mean sea level along European coasts
- Sea-level changes in Europe
- Global sea-level change rates
Data sources in latest figures
Data sets uncertainty
No uncertainty has been specified
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.
Responsibility and ownership
EEA Contact InfoHans-Martin Füssel
Typology: Descriptive indicator (Type A - What is happening to the environment and to humans?)
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe’s environment.
PDF generated on 28 Jan 2015, 06:18 PM