Journal Article

Communicating future sea-level rise uncertainty and ambiguity to assessment users

Kopp, R.E., Oppenheimer, M., O’Reilly, J.L. et al.

Published June 19, 2023


Future sea-level change is characterized by both quantifiable and unquantifiable uncertainties. Effective communication of both types of uncertainty is a key challenge in translating sea-level science to inform long-term coastal planning. Scientific assessments play a key role in the translation process and have taken diverse approaches to communicating sea-level projection uncertainty. Here the article authors review how past IPCC and regional assessments have presented sea-level projection uncertainty, how IPCC presentations have been interpreted by regional assessments and how regional assessments and policy guidance simplify projections for practical use. This information influenced the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report presentation of quantifiable and unquantifiable uncertainty, with the goal of preserving both elements as projections are adapted for regional application.