Sea level will rise in response to the expansion of the warming oceans and from melting land ice. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 5th Assessment Report notes that for a climate change scenario consistent with remaining below 2°C, global mean sea level rise is likely to be between 0.26 to 0.55 m for the period 2081–2100, compared to 1986–2005. The top of this range could be higher should the marine-based ice sheets in Antarctica collapse, increasing by up to several tenths of a metre. Sea level rise will continue beyond the 21st century in this scenario even though global temperatures stabilise, with at least a further 0.5 m expected by 2500.
The future contribution from ice sheets remains very uncertain. There is a risk their melting could result in considerable sea level rise in the longer term.
The UK government is funding research into future sea level rise and its impacts through the DECC and Defra co-funded Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme, and through the DECC funded AVOID programme.