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DES Centennial Celebration

Environmental Sciences Seminar

DATE/TIME:  Friday, September 10, 2021, 2:30 pm

Robert Kopp
Rutgers Institute of Earth, Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences

Making Sea Level Projections Usable

Global sea level is rising at an accelerating rate, creating increased flood hazards around the world. Managing increasing coastal risk requires sea-level rise projections, including a credible characterization of their uncertainties. Yet sea-level rise projections are characterized not only by quantifiable uncertainties but also by ambiguity (also known as deep uncertainty), reflecting limited scientific agreement on key conceptual models and parameters. Effectively communicating sea-level rise projections therefore requires conscious consideration of the role of boundary objects (e.g., key tables and figures) that can credibly convey the underlying science in a manner that is relevant to decision makers and can serve as focal points of deliberations viewed as legitimate by stakeholders. These considerations are reflected in projections presented in the recent Working Group 1 contribution to the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. Effective use of projections, conveyed by well-designed boundary objects, requires training scientists and scientific communicators who can work across disciplinary boundaries to foster solution-oriented dialogues with stakeholders.