OT-Med organized a talk of Pr Benjamin Peter Horton from Rutgers University (USA), entitled:

"Sea-Level Variability Over the Common Era"

which was held on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 11 h in the room 205 of CEREGE, Europôle Méditerranéen de l'Arbois, rue Louis Philibert, Aix-en-Provence, France.

Abstract :

Understanding of Common Era (CE) sea-level change is fragmentary compared to understanding of temperature variability, for which several global syntheses have been generated. This limitation prevents accurate assessment of the CE relationship between temperature and sea level, including the sea-level response to climate phases such as the Medieval Climate Anomaly (MCA) and the Little Ice Age (LIA).

The Atlantic coast of North America provides a sedimentary record of Common Era sea levels with the resolution to identify the mechanisms that cause spatial variability in sea-level rise. This coast has a small tidal range, improving the precision of sea-level reconstructions. Coastal subsidence (from glacial isostatic adjustment, GIA) creates accommodation space that is filled by salt-marsh peat and preserves accurate and precise sea-level indicators and abundant material for radiocarbon dating. In addition, the western North Atlantic Ocean is sensitive to spatial variability in sea-level change, because of static equilibrium effects from melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, ocean circulation and wind-driven variability in the Gulf Stream and GIA induced land-level change from ongoing collapse of Laurentide forbuldge.

We reveal three distinct patters in sea-level during the Common Era along the North American Atlantic coast, likely linked to wind-driven changes in the Gulf Stream: (1) Florida, sea level is essentially flat, with the record dominated by long-term geological processes; (2) North Carolina, sea level falls to a minimum near the beginning of the second millennium, climbing to an early Little Ice Age maximum in the fifteenth century, and then declining through most of the nineteenth century; and (3) New Jersey, a sea-level maximum around 900 CE, a sea-level minimum around 1500 CE, and a long-term sea-level rise through the second half of the second millennium.

We combine the salt-marsh data from North American Atlantic coast with tide-gauge records and other high resolution proxies from the northern and southern hemispheres. All reconstructions are from coasts that are tectonically stable and are based on four types of proxy archives (archaeological indicators, coral microatolls, salt marsh sediments and vermetid [mollusk] bioconstructions) that are best capable of capturing submeter-scale RSL changes. The database consists of reconstructions from Australasia (n = 2), Europe (n=5), Greenland (n = 3), North America (n = 6), the northern Gulf of Mexico (n = 3), the Mediterranean (n = 1), South Africa (n = 2), South America (n =2) and the South Pacific (n =3).

We apply a noisy-input Gaussian process spatio-temporal modeling framework, which identifies a long-term falling global mean sea-level (GMSL), interrupted in the middle of the 19th century by an acceleration yielding a 20th century rate of rise extremely likely (probability P = 0:95) faster than any previous century in the Common Era.

Some pictures...