Watson, P.J., 2019. Updated mean sea-level analysis: South Korea. Journal of Coastal Research, 35(2), 241–250. Coconut Creek (Florida), ISSN 0749-0208.
The threat of sea-level rise to the heavily populated Korean Peninsula has profound and far-reaching implications. This study updates and extends the several previous works undertaken to analyse tide-gauge records and satellite altimetry around South Korea using enhanced time-series analysis techniques to detect coastal vertical land motion and current rates of rise and accelerations in mean sea level to augment planning, design, and risk management activities. Although the longest tide-gauge records available only date back to 1960, every effort has been made to separate the mean sea-level trend from the more dynamic influences with improved precision using state-of-the-art analytical techniques. The analysis identified general trends of subsidence observed around the margins bounded by the East China Sea and East Sea (Sea of Japan) below 36°N, whereas uplift was a more prevalent feature along the margins bounded by the Yellow Sea. All tide-gauge records longer than 50 years exhibited ‘relative’ mean sea-level rise increasing marginally over the length of the record, suggesting the presence of an acceleration; however, the estimated time-varying accelerations (albeit predominantly positive) are small and not statistically different from zero (95% confidence interval). Although the average trend of sea-surface height from satellite altimetry across this region was 3.2 mm/y, key spatial variations were evident, with the highest rates of rise centred in two discrete areas east and west of South Korea around 37.5°N, each exceeding 8 mm/y.