Comparison of this record with data on global climate and carbon dioxide (CO2) levels from Antarctic ice cores suggests that even stabilisation at today's CO2 levels may commit us to sea-level rise over the next couple of millennia, to a level much higher than long-term projections from the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
Little is known about the total amount of possible sea-level rise in equilibrium with a given amount of global warming. This is because the melting of ice sheets is slow, even when temperature rises rapidly. As a consequence, current predictions of sea-level rise for the next century consider only the amount of ice sheet melt that will occur until that time. The total amount of ice sheet melting that will occur over millennia, given the current climate trends, remains poorly understood.
The new record reveals a systematic equilibrium relationship between global temperature and CO2 concentrations and sea-level changes over the last five glacial cycles. Projection of this relationship to today's CO2 concentrations results in a sea-level at 25 (±5) metres above the present. This is in close agreement with independent sea-level data from the Middle Pliocene epoch, 3-3.5 million years ago, when atmospheric CO2 concentrations were similar to the present-day value. This suggests that the identified relationship accurately records the fundamental long-term equilibrium behaviour of the climate system over the last 3.5 Million years.
Lead author Professor Eelco Rohling of the University of Southampton's School of Ocean and Earth Science based at NOCS, said: "Let's assume that our observed natural relationship between CO2 and temperature, and sea level, offers a reasonable 'model' for a future with sustained global warming. Then our result gives a statistically sound expectation of a potential total long-term sea-level rise. Even if we would curb all CO2 emissions today, and stabilise at the modern level (387 parts per million by volume), then our natural relationship suggests that sea level would continue to rise to about 25 m above the present. That is, it would rise to a level similar to that measured for the Middle Pliocene."
Project partners Professor Michal Kucera (University of Tübingen) and Dr Mark Siddall (University of Bristol), add: "We emphasise that such equilibration of sea level would take several thousands of years. But one still has to worry about the large difference between the inferred high equilibrium sea level and the level where sea level actually stands today. Recent geological history shows that times with similarly strong disequilibria commonly saw pulses of very rapid sea-level adjustment, at rates of 1-2 metres per century or higher."
The new study's projection of long-term sea-level change, based on the natural relationship of the last 0.5 to 3.5 million years, differs considerably from the IPCC's model-based long-term projection of +7 m. The discrepancy cannot be easily explained, and new work is needed to ensure that the 'gap is closed'.
The observed relationships from the recent geological past can form a test-bed or reality-check for models, to help them achieve improved future projections.
The project was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (UK) and the Deutsche Forschungs-Gemeinschaft (Germany).
For more information contact the NOCS Press Officer Dr Rory Howlett on +44 (0)23 8059 8490 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Images are available from the NOCS Press Office (Tel. 02380596100).
Dr. Rory Howlett | EurekAlert!
Global study of world's beaches shows threat to protected areas
19.07.2018 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
NSF-supported researchers to present new results on hurricanes and other extreme events
19.07.2018 | National Science Foundation
A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.
The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...
For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.
To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...
For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.
Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...
Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.
A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...
Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.
"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....
13.07.2018 | Event News
12.07.2018 | Event News
03.07.2018 | Event News
20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
20.07.2018 | Information Technology
20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences