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Journal Article

Reconstruction of hourly coastal water levels and counterfactuals without sea level rise for impact attribution


Treu,  Simon
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

Muis,  Sanne
External Organizations;

Dangendorf,  Sönke
External Organizations;

Wahl,  Thomas
External Organizations;

Oelsmann,  Julius
External Organizations;


Heinicke,  Stefanie
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Frieler,  Katja
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;


Mengel,  Matthias
Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research;

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Treu, S., Muis, S., Dangendorf, S., Wahl, T., Oelsmann, J., Heinicke, S., Frieler, K., Mengel, M. (2024): Reconstruction of hourly coastal water levels and counterfactuals without sea level rise for impact attribution. - Earth System Science Data, 16, 2, 1121-1136.

Cite as: https://publications.pik-potsdam.de/pubman/item/item_29657
Rising seas are a threat to human and natural systems along coastlines. The relation between global warming and sea level rise is established, but the quantification of impacts of historical sea level rise on a global scale is largely absent. To foster such quantification, here we present a reconstruction of historical hourly (1979–2015) and monthly (1900–2015) coastal water levels and a corresponding counterfactual without long-term trends in sea level. The dataset pair allows for impact attribution studies that quantify the contribution of sea level rise to observed changes in coastal systems following the definition of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Impacts are ultimately caused by water levels that are relative to the local land height, which makes the inclusion of vertical land motion a necessary step. Also, many impacts are driven by sub-daily extreme water levels. To capture these aspects, the factual data combine reconstructed geocentric sea level on a monthly timescale since 1900, vertical land motion since 1900 and hourly storm-tide variations since 1979. The inclusion of observation-based vertical land motion brings the trends of the combined dataset closer to tide gauge records in most cases, but outliers remain. Daily maximum water levels get in closer agreement with tide gauges through the inclusion of intra-annual ocean density variations. The counterfactual data are derived from the factual data through subtraction of the quadratic trend. The dataset is made available openly through the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP) at https://doi.org/10.48364/ISIMIP.749905 (Treu et al., 2023a).