Contemporary Issues in Sea Level Change: Geological Perspectives

The Bolin Centre for Climate Research, Stockholm University,
invites you to attend a science seminar by Dr. Thomas Cronin, U.S. Geological Survey

Photo: Helen Coxall


Sea-level change is one of the most widely discussed and often misunderstood topics in modern environmental sciences. Given the relatively short record of tide gauges and even shorter period of satellite observations, the two main sources of modern sea level history, it is imperative to rely on geological records to understand sea-level patterns, rates, and causes. We will trace the history of research on sea level from the 1960s to the present day drawing on three distinct but interconnected sources of paleosea level history: paleo-shorelines [coral reefs, tidal marshes, other coastal features], marine foraminiferal oxygen isotope records of ice volume and ocean temperature, and glaciological studies of past ice sheets and ice shelves.

Three geological periods will be discussed. First, the Pliocene (5.32.6 million years ago) is known as a period of high sea level (~20 meters above present day, elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations (~350400 ppmv) and relatively warm climate. Second, we will examine the last 500,000 years of the Quaternary, when warm, interglacial periods experienced higher-than-present sea level but CO2 concentrations near preindustrial levels (~280 ppmv). Finally, we consider late Holocene sea level (the last few thousand years), a period often used as a “stable” baseline for interpretation of modern sea level rise, despite extensive climatic, glacial and oceanographic variability. We conclude that paleo-sea level research raises concerns about the rate at which sea level can rise, to a large degree from decreased glacial ice volume, with minimal external forcing.


Speaker: Thomas Cronin
U.S. Geological Survey
Time:  Thursday 18 May, 2017, 10h00–11h00
Place:  Nordenskiöld room, Geoscience Building
The lectures will be streamed and saved on the Bolin Centre website

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