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SEA LEVEL CHANGE AND TRANSPORTATION PLANNING by Bob Dean University of Florida. Questions to Address.

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Bob Dean

University of Florida

Questions to address

Questions to Address

(1) What is the Long-term History of Sea Level Change?(2) Is Global Sea Level Currently Rising? If so, What is the Rate?(3) Is Global Sea Level Accelerating? If so, What is the Rate?(4) Prognosis for Future Sea Level Rise Rates. (5) Relevance to ransportation System Design

Questions to address the engineering response

Questions to Address(The Engineering Response)

(1) Incorporate Effect in Initial Design(2) Retrofit at Some Future Time

An Afterthought: Possible Role of Sunspots on Global Climate Change

Relative sea level rise definitions

Relative Sea Level Rise: Definitions

Relative Sea Level Rise (RSLR) = Global Sea Level Rise + Local EffectsGlobal = EustaticLocal = Tectonic + Compaction + Post Glacial Rebound + Subsidence + …….

Components of eustatic slr

Components of Eustatic SLR

(1)Thermal expansion of water(2) Alpine glaciers(3) Ice Sheets: Greenland, and Antartica

Sea level rise over the last 8 000 years

Sea Level Rise Over the Last 8,000 Years

Rsl change juneau ak an example of post glacial rebound

RSL Change: Juneau, AKAn Example of Post Glacial Rebound

Rsl change adak ak note tectonic effects

RSL Change: Adak, AKNote Tectonic Effects



  • Subsidence can be substantial exceeding the eustatic component significantlyLong Beach, CA: > 6 m due to hydrocarbon extractionTokyo: 3.5 m due to water extractionOsaka: > 2 m due to water extractionCoastal Louisiana: Up to 1 m per century due to natural and anthropogenic causes

Production rates and bottom hole pressure reduction valentine oil field la

Production Rates and Bottom Hole Pressure Reduction. Valentine Oil Field, LA

a) Production Rates of Oil, Gas and Water

b) Reduction in Bottom Hole Pressure

Eustatic sea level rise estimates

Eustatic Sea Level Rise Estimates Valentine Oil Field, LA

Average sea level rise over the last 120 years

Average Sea Level Rise Valentine Oil Field, LAOver the Last 120 Years

Is global sea level rising

Is Global Sea Level Rising? Valentine Oil Field, LA

Yes. Over the Past Century, the Rate Has Been Between 1 and 2 mm/year (I Like 1.2 mm/year).A Caveat: Most Tide Gages Are Located Near Areas of Ground Water Extraction. Effect on Gage Readings?

Is sea level rise accelerating

Is Sea Level Rise Accelerating? Valentine Oil Field, LA

Rate of CO2 Increase, Mauna Loa, HI

Average global temperature change

Average Global Temperature Change Valentine Oil Field, LA

Sea level rise projections ipcc

Sea Level Rise Projections (IPCC) Rise, 1980’s

Long-term Eustatic Rate

Probabilities of sea level rise 2000 to 2200

Probabilities of Sea Level Rise: Rise, 1980’s2000 to 2200

Is sea level accelerating1

Is Sea Level Accelerating? Rise, 1980’s

(1) There are Indications of Sea Level Acceleration Although They Are Weak and do not Appear to be Increasing(2) Probably Won’t Know About Anthropogenic Effects Definitively for 30 or More Years

Will sea level rise accelerate in the future

Will Sea Level Rise Accelerate in the Future? Rise, 1980’s

Probably, However, the Timing and Rates are Extremely UncertainAs Support, the Predicted Rates of Acceleration Have Decreased Since 1984 When Some Early Predictions Started

Engineering responses

Engineering Responses Rise, 1980’s

* Some Highways: Increase Protection as Need Becomes Apparent* Bridges and Other Infrastructure Less Suited for Retrofitting: Allow for RSLR in Original Design

Example discussion coastal highways

Example/Discussion Rise, 1980’sCoastal Highways

* Base design on predictions of local RSLR* Usually, not readily retrofitted during design life* Flooding of special concern if evacuation route* If evacuation route, design for upper limit of probabilities

Example discussion revetment protecting a coastal highway

Example/Discussion Rise, 1980’sRevetment Protecting a Coastal Highway

* Several coastal engineering options for retrofitting during design life, including * Adding more and heavier armor units * Beach nourishment to reduce size of waves


Summary Rise, 1980’s

  • Sea level has changed over millions of years under natural forcing

  • Current rates of eustatic sea level rise are between 1.2 to 2.0 mm/yr

  • There is not consensus of an acceleration of eustatic sea level rise nor of the role of human activity

  • Transportation and design should understand coastal engineering options for retrofitting during design life

  • Transportation planning and design should include local relative sea level rise if critical to the performance

Solar forcing and glaciation stages

Solar Forcing and Rise, 1980’sGlaciation Stages

Sunspot history 1700 to 2006

Sunspot History: Rise, 1980’s1700 to 2006

Recent sunspot activity

Recent Sunspot Activity Rise, 1980’s

Yearly sunspot numbers 1610 to 2000

Yearly Sunspot Numbers: Rise, 1980’s1610 to 2000

Reconstructed temperature 0 to 2000 ad note little ice age period

Reconstructed Temperature: Rise, 1980’s0 to 2000 AD(Note “Little Ice Age” Period)


QUESTIONS? Rise, 1980’s

Is sea level rise accelerating1

Is Sea Level Rise Accelerating? Rise, 1980’s

Consider:and evaluate a and b from the data on the following slide. b is an acceleration term.

Is sea level rise accelerating2

Is Sea Level Rise Accelerating? Rise, 1980’s

This leads to:


Is the average of the time period over

which is determined. Solving for

a and b from the data yields very unrealistic results signifying that the data are not well conditioned for this purpose.

Engineering response

Engineering Response Rise, 1980’s

NRC Report (1984)“The Prognosis for Sea Level Rise Should Not be a Cause for Alarm or Complacency”


Outline Rise, 1980’s

(1) Definitions(2) Discuss Magnitudes of Relative Sea Level Rise(3) Is the rate of sea level rise increasing(4) Engineering responses to sea level rise (NRC Report)