The rate of sea level rise along the U.S. Atlantic coast is greater now than at any time in the past 2,000 years--and has shown a consistent link between changes in global mean surface temperature and sea level.
Rising seas lap at the house in "Nights in Rodanthe," filmed during the field work. Credit: Andrew Kemp, Yale University
The findings are published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The research, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), was conducted by Andrew Kemp, Yale University; Benjamin Horton, University of Pennsylvania; Jeffrey Donnelly, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Michael Mann, Pennsylvania State University; Martin Vermeer, Aalto University School of Engineering, Finland; and Stefan Rahmstorf, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany.
"Having a detailed picture of rates of sea level change over the past two millennia provides an important context for understanding current and potential future changes," says Paul Cutler, program director in NSF's Division of Earth Sciences.
"It's especially valuable for anticipating the evolution of coastal systems," he says, "in which more than half the world's population now lives."
Adds Kemp, "Scenarios of future rise are dependent on understanding the response of sea level to climate changes. Accurate estimates of past sea-level variability provide a context for such projections."
Kemp and colleagues developed the first continuous sea-level reconstruction for the past 2,000 years, and compared variations in global temperature to changes in sea level over that time period.
The team found that sea level was relatively stable from 200 BC to 1,000 AD.
Then in the 11th century, sea level rose by about half a millimeter each year for 400 years, linked with a warm climate period known as the Medieval Climate Anomaly.
Then there was a second period of stable sea level during a cooler period called the Little Ice Age. It persisted until the late 19th century.
Since the late 19th century, sea level has risen by more than 2 millimeters per year on average, the steepest rate for more than 2,100 years.
"Sea-level rise is a potentially disastrous outcome of climate change," says Horton, "as rising temperatures melt land-based ice, and warm ocean waters."
To reconstruct sea level, the scientists used microfossils called foraminifera preserved in sediment cores extracted from coastal salt marshes in North Carolina. The age of the cores was estimated using radiocarbon dating and other techniques.
To test the validity of their approach, the team compared its reconstructions with tide-gauge measurements from North Carolina for the past 80 years, and global tide-gauge records for the past 300 years.
A second reconstruction from Massachusetts confirmed their findings.
The records were corrected for contributions to sea-level rise made by vertical land movements.
The reconstructed changes in sea level over the past millennium are consistent with past global temperatures, the researchers say, and can be determined using a model relating the rate of sea level rise to global temperature.
"Data from the past helped calibrate our model, and will improve sea level rise projections under scenarios of future temperature increases," says Rahmstorf.
Support for the research also was provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States Geological Survey, the Academy of Finland, the European Science Foundation through European Cooperation in Science and Technology and the University of Pennsylvania.Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas | EurekAlert!
PR of MCC: Carbon removal from atmosphere unavoidable for 1.5 degree target
22.05.2018 | Mercator Research Institute on Global Commons and Climate Change (MCC) gGmbH
Monitoring lava lake levels in Congo volcano
16.05.2018 | Seismological Society of America
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences
23.05.2018 | Life Sciences
23.05.2018 | Physics and Astronomy