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A search for scale in sea-level studies

Journal of Coastal Research

By:
,
DOI: 10.2112/03-0123.1

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Abstract

Many researchers assume a proportional relationship among the atmospheric CO2 concentration, temperature, and sea level. Thus, the rate of sea-level rise should increase in concert with the documented exponential increase in CO2. Although sea surface temperature has increased in places over the past century and short-term sea level rose abruptly during the 1990s, it is difficult to demonstrate a proportional relationship using existing geologic or historic records. Tide gauge records in the United States cover too short a time interval to verify acceleration in the rate of sea-level rise, although multicentury tide gauge and staff records from the Netherlands and Sweden suggest a mid-19th-century acceleration in sea-level rise. Reconstructions of sea-level changes for the past 1000 years derived using benthic foraminifer data from salt marshes along the East Coast of the United States suggest an increased rate of relative sea-level rise beginning in the 1600s. Geologic records of relative sea-level rise for the past 6000 years are available for several sites along the US East Coast from 14C-dated basal peat below salt marshes and estuarine sediments. When these three scales of sea-level variation are integrated, adjusted for postglacial isostatic movement, and replotted, the range of variation in sea level suggested by basal peat ages is within ??1 meter of the long-term trend. The reconstruction from Long Island Sound data shows a linear rise in sea level beginning in the mid-1600s at a rate consistent with the historic record of mean high water. Long-term tide gauge records from Europe and North America show similar trends since the mid-19th century. There is no clear proportional exponential increase in the rate of sea-level rise. If proportionality exists among sea level, atmospheric CO2, and temperature, there may be a significant time lag before an anthropogenic increase in the rate of sea-level rise occurs.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
A search for scale in sea-level studies
Series title:
Journal of Coastal Research
DOI:
10.2112/03-0123.1
Volume
22
Issue:
4
Year Published:
2006
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
First page:
788
Last page:
800
Number of Pages:
13