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Global and regional factors contributing to the past and future sea level rise in the Northern Adriatic Sea

March 27, 2013

This study aims at discussing evolution of Sea Level (SL) in the Northern Adriatic Sea for the 20th and 21st century. A linear regression model (LRM) which aims at describing the effect of regional processes, is built and validated. This LRM computes the North Adriatic mean SL variations using three predictors: the sea level pressure (MSLP) in the Gulf of Venice, the mean sea temperature (ST) of the water column in the South Adriatic and the upper level salinity (ULS) in the central part of the basin. SL data are provided by monthly values recorded at 7 tide gauges distributed along the Italian and Croatian coast (available at the PSMSL, Permanent Service of Mean Sea Level). MSLP data are provided by the EMULATE data set. Mediterranean ST and ULS data are extracted from the MEDATLAS/2002 database. The study shows that annual SL variations at Northern Adriatic stations are very coherent, so that the northern Adriatic SL can be reconstructed since 1905 on the basis of only two stations: Venice and Trieste. The LRM is found to be robust, very successful at explaining interannual SL variations and consistent with the physical mechanisms responsible for SL evolution. Results show that observed SL in the 20th century has a large trend, which cannot be explained by this LRM, and it is interpreted as the superposition of land movement and a remote cause (such as polar ice melting). When the LRM is used with the MSLP, ST and ULS from climate model projections for the end of the 21st century (A1B scenario), it produces a SL rise in the range from 2.3 to 14.1 cm, with a best estimate of 8.9 cm. However, results show that the behavior of the remotely forced SL rise is the main source of future SL uncertainty and extrapolating its present trend to the future would expand the range of SL uncertainty from 14 to 49 cm.

Luca Scarascia L,Lionello P, in press, Global and regional factors contributing to the past and future sea level rise in the Northern Adriatic Sea, Global and Planetary Change, doi:10.1016/j.gloplacha.2013.03.004. Article (Subscription required).

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