Research ArticleOCEANOGRAPHY

Optimal temperature overshoot profile found by limiting global sea level rise as a lower-cost climate target

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Science Advances  08 Jan 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 2, eaaw9490
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw9490


The global temperature targets of limiting surface warming to below 2.0°C or even to 1.5°C have been widely accepted through the Paris Agreement. However, limiting surface warming has previously been proven insufficient to control sea level rise (SLR). Here, we explore a sea level target that is closer to coastal planning and associated adaptation measures than a temperature target. We find that a sea level target provides an optimal temperature overshoot profile through a physical constraint of SLR. The allowable temperature overshoot leads to lower mitigation costs and more effective long-term sea level stabilization compared to a temperature target leading to the same SLR by 2200. With the same mitigation cost as the temperature target, a SLR target could bring surface warming back to the targeted temperatures within this century, lead to a reduction of surface warming of the next century, and reduce and slow down SLR in the centuries thereafter.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial license, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, so long as the resultant use is not for commercial advantage and provided the original work is properly cited.

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