Projected sea level rise and changes in extreme storm surge and wave events during the 21st century in the region of Singapore
- 1National Oceanography Centre, 6 Brownlow Street, Liverpool, L3 5DA, UK
- 2Met Office, Fitz Roy Road, Exeter, Devon, EX1 3PB, UK
Abstract. Singapore is an island state with considerable population, industries, commerce and transport located in coastal areas at elevations less than 2 m making it vulnerable to sea level rise. Mitigation against future inundation events requires a quantitative assessment of risk. To address this need, regional projections of changes in (i) long-term mean sea level and (ii) the frequency of extreme storm surge and wave events have been combined to explore potential changes to coastal flood risk over the 21st century. Local changes in time-mean sea level were evaluated using the process-based climate model data and methods presented in the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report (IPCC AR5). Regional surge and wave solutions extending from 1980 to 2100 were generated using ∼ 12 km resolution surge (Nucleus for European Modelling of the Ocean – NEMO) and wave (WaveWatchIII) models. Ocean simulations were forced by output from a selection of four downscaled ( ∼ 12 km resolution) atmospheric models, forced at the lateral boundaries by global climate model simulations generated for the IPCC AR5. Long-term trends in skew surge and significant wave height were then assessed using a generalised extreme value model, fit to the largest modelled events each year. An additional atmospheric solution downscaled from the ERA-Interim global reanalysis was used to force historical ocean model simulations extending from 1980 to 2010, enabling a quantitative assessment of model skill. Simulated historical sea-surface height and significant wave height time series were compared to tide gauge data and satellite altimetry data, respectively. Central estimates of the long-term mean sea level rise at Singapore by 2100 were projected to be 0.52 m (0.74 m) under the Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP)4.5 (8.5) scenarios. Trends in surge and significant wave height 2-year return levels were found to be statistically insignificant and/or physically very small under the more severe RCP8.5 scenario. We conclude that changes to long-term mean sea level constitute the dominant signal of change to the projected inundation risk for Singapore during the 21st century. We note that the largest recorded surge residual in the Singapore Strait of ∼ 84 cm lies between the central and upper estimates of sea level rise by 2100, highlighting the vulnerability of the region.