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Sci Adv. 2020 Jan 8;6(2):eaaw9490. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aaw9490. eCollection 2020 Jan.

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

Author information

1
Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Bundesstrasse 53, 20146 Hamburg, Germany.
2
Research Unit Sustainability and Global Change, University of Hamburg, Grindelberg 5, 20144 Hamburg, Germany.

Abstract

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.

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