The PRECISE Network: Dedicated to improving regional projections of potential extreme future sea-level rise.
The potential of regional extreme sea-level rise remains a key socioeconomic uncertainty for millions across the Asia-Pacific region due to the likely impacts on coastal erosion, inundation and for water resource management. Led by UNSW researchers, the PRECISE Network forms a multidisciplinary Asia Pacific wide network, designed to share, strengthen, and build our capacity in key research areas fundamental to reducing this uncertainty, and ensure effective communication with key stakeholders including government, industry and the public.
Over the past century, global mean sea level (GMSL) has risen by about 16 cm (i.e. an average rate of 1.6 mm/year). Recently this rate has increased to around 3 mm/year, an effective doubling largely due to thermal expansion and the melting of glaciers worldwide. The latest IPCC (AR5) report indicated that in the absence of significant mitigation of greenhouse-gas emissions, sea level is expected to rise by approximately 0.2-0.8 m over the 21st century.
There is, however, considerable uncertainty in these global projections; recent research has suggested that these may be significant underestimates due to non-linear response of the Earth’s ice sheets to climate forcing. Additionally, regional sea-level rise is highly variable due to the combination of climate, the vertical movement of land, variations in the Earth’s gravitational field (due to varying water distribution across the oceans), the storage of water on land (due to damming and hydrological changes) and changes in ocean circulation. Therefore, despite marked advances in our understanding of the physical processes driving contemporary sea-level rise, the potential for extreme regional sea-level rise under future climate projections remains a subject of critical uncertainty. This is particularly acute across the Asia-Pacific region, with millions of people living within meters of current sea level and with key infrastructure situated in and around low-lying coastal regions.
To address this global challenge, the PRECISE Network (Projecting potential Regional Extremes in sea level rise due to Climate, IsostaSy and ocean thermal Expansion) aims to build research cooperation and capacity in key areas of uncertainty in sea level projection. Led by Dr Chris Fogwill (ESSRC research group) and a multidisciplinary team of leading geoscientists from world-class institutions across the Asia-Pacific – including UNSW, ANU, University of Sydney, Victoria University of Wellington, University of Tokyo and the University of Wollongong – the PRECISE Network is ideally placed to transform research into this crucial topic across the Asia Pacific region.
By focusing on capacity building and networking with key stakeholders, the PRECISE Network will ensure an enduring legacy that will drive scientific advances and reduce uncertainty in regional sea-level rise projections. This will build Australia’s capacity to respond to environmental change and provide crucial information to key stakeholders across the Asia-Pacific region to inform risk-reduction strategies.
Dr Amy Dougherty
Prof. Yusuke Yokoyama
Prof. Ayako Abe-Ouchi
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