Study determines sea-level rise during last interglacial period

Study determines sea-level rise during last interglacial period

A University of Iowa researcher has contributed to a new study that determines how much oceans rose during a particularly warm climate period about 120,000 years ago.

Jeffrey Dorale, associate professor in the Department of Earth of Environmental Sciences, is a co-author on the study that found the western Mediterranean Sea was consistently 6 feet to 9 feet feet higher than present for about 10,000 years, without large fluctuations during that time. 

The authors also report Antarctica most likely did not experience significant melting during that time period, known as the last interglacial. 

The researchers derived their sea-level figures from analyzing speleothems, secondary mineral deposits that are formed in caves. The deposits were in caves along the southern and eastern coasts of Mallorca, a Mediterranean island off the coast of Spain.

The sea-level estimates differ from some recent estimates based on studying coral reefs, which put the last interglacial sea levels as much as 29 feet higher than present. Greenland’s ice sheet and some of the ice on Antarctica would have needed to melt to generate such a sea-level rise, Dorale notes.

The paper is titled, “A highly resolved record of relative sea level in the western Mediterranean Sea during the last interglacial period.” It was published in September in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Contacts: 

Richard Lewis, Office of Strategic Communication, 319-384-0012

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