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ASSESSING THE RISKS OF A FUTURE RAPID LARGE SEA LEVEL RISE: A REVIEW

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Abstract

Our aim is to make an appropriate characterization and interpretation of the risk problem of rapid large sea level rise that reflects the very large uncertainty in present day knowledge concerning this possibility, and that will be useful in informing discussion about risk management approaches. We consider mainly the potential collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet as the source of such a sea level rise. Our review, characterization and interpretation of the risk makes us conclude that the risk of a rapid large sea level rise is characterized by potentially catastrophic consequences and high epistemic uncertainty; effective risk management must involve highly adaptive management regimes, vulnerability reduction, and prompt development of capabilities for precautionary reduction of climate change forcings.

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