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Global mean thermosteric sea level projections by 2100 in CMIP6 climate models

Jevrejeva, Svetlana; Palanisamy, Hindumathi; Jackson, Luke P.

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Svetlana Jevrejeva

Hindumathi Palanisamy


Most of the excess energy stored in the climate system is taken up by the oceans leading to thermal expansion and sea level rise. Future sea level projections allow decision-makers to assess coastal risk, develop climate resilient communities and plan vital infrastructure in low-elevation coastal zones. Confidence in these projections depends on the ability of climate models to simulate the various components of future sea level rise. In this study we estimate the contribution from thermal expansion to sea level rise using the simulations of global mean thermosteric sea level (GMTSL) from 15 available models in the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 6 (CMIP6). We calculate a GMTSL rise of 18.8 cm [12.8–23.6 cm, 90% range] and 26.8 cm [18.6–34.6 cm, 90% range] for the period 2081–2100, relative to 1995–2014 for SSP245 and SSP585 scenarios respectively. In a comparison with a 20 model ensemble from Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5), the CMIP6 ensemble mean of future GMTSL (2014–2100) is higher for both scenarios and shows a larger variance. By contrast, for the period 1901–1990, GMTSL from CMIP6 has half the variance of that from CMIP5. Over the period 1940–2005, the rate of CMIP6 ensemble mean of GMTSL rise is 0.2 ± 0.1 mm yr−1, which is less than half of the observed rate (0.5 ± 0.02 mm yr−1). At a multi-decadal timescale, there is an offset of ~10 cm per century between observed/modelled thermosteric sea level over the historical period and modelled thermosteric sea level over this century for the same rate of change of global temperature. We further discuss the difference in GMTSL sensitivity to the changes in global surface temperature over the historical and future periods.


Jevrejeva, S., Palanisamy, H., & Jackson, L. P. (2021). Global mean thermosteric sea level projections by 2100 in CMIP6 climate models. Environmental Research Letters, 16(1), Article 014028.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 30, 2020
Online Publication Date Dec 28, 2020
Publication Date 2021-01
Deposit Date Jun 28, 2021
Publicly Available Date Jun 28, 2021
Journal Environmental Research Letters
Publisher IOP Publishing
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 16
Issue 1
Article Number 014028


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© 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd<br /> <br /> Original content from<br /> this work may be used<br /> under the terms of the<br /> Creative Commons<br /> Attribution 4.0 licence.<br /> Any further distribution<br /> of this work must<br /> maintain attribution to<br /> the author(s) and the title<br /> of the work, journal<br /> citation and DOI.

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